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February 17, 2018

Govt in a quandary about budget 2018-19

National

February 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Two proposals are under considerations among the corridors of power either to present whole year budget for 2018-19 or to unveil budget for just three months (July-September) of 2018-19 without creating any liability for incoming government into power after winning the next elections.

Even the ministers of the incumbent PML-N led regime are not fully sure at the moment that what course they are going to adopt--whether they will be presenting three months or full fiscal year’s budget this time before Parliament in second week of May 2018.

Two points of views exist among the dwellers of Q Block (Ministry of Finance) at Pakistan Secretariat as some are suggesting to the government to present the budget for whole financial year on May 12, 2018.

But there is another view within the ranks of the government who argue that there was no justification to bind any future government coming into power, so it will be appropriate to present the next budget just for three months period only. After winning the elections, the government will have time for presenting budget in accordance with its manifesto around September next that will become effective from October 1, 2018, for period of nine months only.

This scribe contacted the Minister of State for Finance, Rana Afzal, for seeking his comments, he said that there were some constitutional bindings restricting the government for not creating liabilities for the future government. However, he said that the final decision to this effect was not yet taken by the government.

However, some former and existing bureaucrats are suggesting to the government for finding out innovative solutions to present the budget without creating liabilities for anyone. The mainstream political parties, such as the PML-N, PPP and PTI can deliberate on salient features of the upcoming budget 2018-19 and consensus can be evolved after which the budget could be announced in the second week of May 2018.

However, the Planning Commission high-ups argue that when the PML-N led regime had assumed reins of power after winning 2013 elections in June, the meeting of Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) was skipped and macroeconomic framework was prepared for the National Economic Council (NEC) in haste. They said that in case of presenting next budget on May 12, 2018, the National Accounts Committee (NAC) will have to meet in April and will have to calculate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the basis of data of maximum eight months (July-Feb) period because there was lag of two months in the provision of availability of data from all concerned federal and provincial governments and departments.

After NAC meeting, the APCC will hold meeting in late April 2018. At least three to four days will be required for holding the NEC meeting in early May 2018 so that the budget can be presented in accordance with the desired deadline of May 12, 2018.

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