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May 30, 2019

Country facing unprecedented economic crisis: PM

Top Story

May 30, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the country was facing an unprecedented economic crisis, as the National Economic Council (NEC) approved the national development outlay of Rs1,837 billion and macroeconomic framework for the next budget 2019-20.

The NEC also approved the draft of 12th Five Year plan for 2018-2023. The meeting approved GDP growth target of 4 percent along with sectoral growth of agriculture (3.5 percent), industry (2.2 percent) and services sector (4.8 percent) for financial year 2019-20. Inflation was targeted at 8.5 percent for the next fiscal year.

The NEC, which met under chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan, accorded approval to national development outlay of Rs1,837 billion, including federal Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) at Rs675 billion, out of which foreign aid of Rs127 billion was estimated. The alternate financing of Rs250 billion was also approved by the NEC. The provincial Annual Development Plans (ADPs) stood at Rs912 billion.

The prime minister during the meeting said that the country was facing an unprecedented economic crisis when the present government took over. “All our efforts were aimed at saving the country from default,” he said.

The premier said economic crisis also offers an opportunity. “We can undertake and accomplish all those tasks which should have been done earlier,” he said.

The prime minister said that joint efforts of the federal government and the provincial governments are needed to overcome the present economic crisis.

The prime minister said the government has introduced local government system in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to ensure empowerment of the people at grass-roots level and to afford them an opportunity to play their part in their developmental process.

The prime minister reiterated his call to the provinces to allocate necessary financial resources, as per the commitments made earlier, for the development of erstwhile Fata.

For PM’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme executed through parliamentarians, the government allocated Rs24 billion funds for next budget.

However, sources said that Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah spoke around 40 minutes and complained about the development projects slashed out from the PSDP list. He also stated that the federal government had ignored Sindh projects in last few years. The premier directed the Planning Commission to sit with the Sindh representatives and sort out issues on exclusion of development projects. The Sindh CM also demanded sharing IMF package details before the NEC. On this point, Adviser to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh replied that the staff-level agreement was struck with the IMF which was yet to be approved by the IMF Executive Board. He stated that the provinces were made part of consultative process for holding talks with the IMF and representatives of four provinces held meeting with the IMF mission during the last visit to Pakistan.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar objected that four projects were excluded from the PSDP list including one road from Southern Punjab. KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan complained about less allocation for merged tribal districts.

The NEC also authorised the Ministry of Planning to make adjustments in the detailed PSDP during the fiscal year for optimum utilisation, while remaining within approved size of PSDP for 2019-20. Of total allocated amount of Rs1,837 billion, the federal PSDP stood at Rs925 billion, including Rs675 billion as federal share of development programme. For ministries/divisions, the allocated amount was standing at Rs295 billion, corporation such as NHA, Wapda-power) Rs189 billion, special areas of AJK-Gligit Baltistan Rs40 billion, merged districts of erstwhile Fata Rs24 billion, ERRA Rs5 billion and Knowledge Economy Initiative Rs13 billion. The special programs managed by the Finance Division got allocation of Rs100 billion in the next budget including Rs65 billion for Special Development Programme for IDPs and Security Enhancement of merged tribal districts, Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Initiative Rs10 billion, merged districts under 10 year development plan Rs22 billion, Clean Green Pakistan Movement Rs2 billion and Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Rs1 billion.

The infrastructure sector has been allocated 64 percent of Rs575 billion meant for ministries/divisions. The highest priority has been accorded to transport and communication sectors with an allocation of Rs200 billion. This includes Rs160 billion for national highways, Rs16 billion for Railways and Rs24 billion for other projects including Aviation scheme.

As per National Water Policy, minimum allocation to water sector should be 10 percent of PSDP size. For water sector, Rs70 billion have been allocated against its share of Rs67 billion.

Financing of water sector projects benefitting one province will be discouraged from the federal PSDP except financing of small dams in Balochistan. As a matter of policy, land and settlement cost shall be borne by the provincial governments. Kachhi canal project will be completed during next two to three years.

Energy sector has been accorded priority area where investment of Rs120 billion is planned. Out of total share of energy, Rs80 billion has been allocated in the budget while Rs40 billion will be invested by NTDC/Genco/Wapda from all self-generated resources on transmission and distribution. Inter-connection of isolated Makran Network via Nag Basam Grid Station from Panjgur will be completed next three years. The government has allocated Rs32 billion for education program including Higher Education Commission. For the government’s programme of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami programme, the allocated funds stood at Rs8 billion. For development of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), a special package of Rs10 billion to improve sewages and sanitation, water supply and roads.

The meeting reviewed draft 12th Five Year Plan (2018-23). It was informed that main themes of the 12th Five Year Plan include balanced and equitable regional development; sustainable, inclusive, job-creating export-led growth; resource mobilisation and improving governance; improving social protection; ensuring food and water security, enhancing connectivity, promoting knowledge economy and Clean and Green Pakistan.

The NEC confirmed extension in powers of Special Forum for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in erstwhile Fata till December 2019. The Special Forum, under the Chairmanship of Commander 11 Corps, was established by the NEC on 30-05-2016 for a period of two years for fast track implementation mechanism for rehabilitation and reconstruction in tribal districts.

The meeting approved establishment of Islamabad Development Working Party headed by the chief commissioner ICT including representatives from Ministries of Finance, Planning and other concerned offices. The IDWP will be allowed to approve development project up to Rs60.00 million.

The NEC approved procedure for approval of Programme for Results (PforR), Development Policy Credits (DPCs) and Financial Intermediation Programmes (FIPs).

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