KARACHI: The federal government lead by Pakistan Muslim League (N) laid a budget of 18.88 trillion Rupees with a deficit of Rupees 9 trillion almost half of the total budget. The FBR is given a target of rupees 3720 billion more than previous year target. The common perception about the new fiscal years budget is that it conforms to the conditions advanced by the International Monetary Fund which requires of the government to collect more taxes.

Presenting the budget for the year 2024-25, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb after a delay of almost two hours referred to the concept of Home Grown Reforms Agenda introduced by Muhammad Nawaz Sharif government in 1990’s.   

The Finance Minister said that Standby Arrangement with IMF helped the country to steer out of financial crunch and said reduction in inflation is a big achievement by the present coalition government. He said that Pakistan is now out of bad economic situation.

It is high time to introduce structural reforms and to end economic imbalances, said the Finance Minister adding that “Governments are not supposed to do business”. He said that instead of Market Driven Economy it should be “Saving and Investment” based.

Finance Minister  said that Pakistan is engaged with IMF for an Extended Fund Facility and talks are progressing positively. The present government aims at addressing the issue of expenditures beyond income

The Finance Minister also expressed the resolve for Privatization and said Islamabad Airport will be ‘outsourced’ in next few months to be followed by the outsourcing of Lahore and Karachi Airport.

The Finance Minister also vowed to improve health, education and other sectors but the allocation to these sectors show meager amounts.

While announcing allocation for E Bikes and Saver Fans, he announced ending subsidy on import of Hybrid and Luxury E vehicles while extending more subsidy on solar panels.

In order to appease the government employees, he announced proposal to increase salary by 25 per cent for the employees of Grade 1 to 16 and 20 per cent raise for officials of Grade 17 to 22.

Outlining the budget points, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said that the gross domestic project (GDP) growth target for the fiscal year 2024-25 is fixed at 3.6pc, whereas the inflation rate is expected to remain 12pc.

He said that the budget deficit to GDP during the period under review is estimated at 6.9pc, whereas the primary surplus during the review period is projected at 1.0pc of the GDP.

The minister said that the Revenue collection of the Federal Board of Revenue is estimated to Rs12,970 billion during up-coming fiscal year, adding that tax revenue collection during the current fiscal year grew by 38 percent and the provincial share would be Rs7,438 billion.

He said that the non-tax revenue targets of the federation are fixed at Rs3,587 billion, whereas the net income of the federal government would be Rs9,119 billion.

The total expenditures of the federal government is estimated at Rs18,877 billion out of the total amount of Rs9,775 billion would be spent on interest payments.

The government has allocated Rs1,400 billion for Public Sector Development Program in its current budget, adding that an additional amount of Rs100 billion would be allocated under Public Private Partnership, he added.  

Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP-P) expressed reservation over the budget after which Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called on President Asif Ali Zardari. Both the leaders resolved the concerns expressed by Parliamentarians of PPP. The PPP expressed support to the government and assured support in passage of budget. However, the PPP Parliamentarians who met under co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari decided not to participate in the budget session on account that they have not taken into confidence over PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme). Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar met the PPPP men who joined the session symbolically while Bilawal Bhutto choose not to attend the budget session. The federal cabinet in meeting thereafter approved the budgetary proposals for the next fiscal year.

The employees of federal government from all the four provinces gathered outside the parliament building and staged a huge protest.  

The budget session was marred by strong protest from opposition parties who chanted slogans but no untoward incident was seen.

The budget session was adjourned till June 20 when debate on budget will commence.

The budget session exposed the fragile coalition government and increasing un-ease between major coalition partners.