–Awan says budget aims to stabilise economy, manage external deficit by decreasing imports, reduce fiscal deficit through revenue mobilisation and expenditure control
–Terms North Waziristan incident ‘a conspiracy to impede development in tribal areas’
ISLAMABAD: Amid a recent reshuffle in the finance team and economic uncertainty, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to present the budget for the financial year 2019-20 on June 11.
This was announced by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan in a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet.
She said PM’s Adviser on Finance Hafeez Shaikh and his team presented the finance bill –closely linked to PTI’s vision— in the meeting.
As per the budget plan elaborated by Awan, the government desires to steer the economy on to the path of stabilisation, which is the foremost priority. She, however, said that detailed briefing will be given by Shaikh himself.
“Our focus will be the stabilisation of the economy, managing external deficit by decreasing imports, reduction of fiscal deficit through revenue mobilisation and expenditure control, setting the path for public debt reduction,” she said.
She said due to the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, the provincial governments played a central role in the development of the budget. Under the NFC Award, the Centre is bound to give provinces a chunk of its revenue.
The government also took the provinces on board over the budget, said Awan.
She said that the way forward devised and put into action by the government’s economic team has stabilised the value of the rupee and that uncertainty and “rumour factories” which had brought instability to the economy have been shut down.
“Positive indicators have begun to emerge. The stock exchange has contributed and behaved positively and ultimately is making new records.” It may be mentioned here after weeks of bloodbath, the PSX that gained over 2,000 points last week has started shedding again: it lost 748 points on Tuesday.
“The government’s purpose in this budget is to create a platform for growth because job opportunities are linked to growth and only when growth increases will job opportunities grow,” she said, adding the government would keep the condition of poorer segments of the society in mind while laying down new budget.
She was the government would ensure that the common man won’t be adversely affected in the upcoming budget.
However, according to Profit, the government is planning to drop an inflation bomb on public, as taxes are expected to be increased in the upcoming budget. According to details, new taxes of Rs40 billion have been proposed in the next budget.
In a presser on Saturday, PM’s Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that the government had set the revenue collection target of Rs5.5 trillion for the next financial year.
NO TOLERANCE FOR ‘MISCREANTS’:
Commenting on the recent incidents of violence involving the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Awan said that the government will show zero tolerance towards elements “conspiring to put the national dignity, image and security at stake”.
She added that certain elements through their acts have put the peace and prosperity of tribal areas at stake.
Awan recalled that the tribal people have rendered innumerable sacrifices for peace and stability of Pakistan.
She was referring to an incident in North Waziristan wherein at least 13 were killed in firing at protesters belonging to PTM. The military and official version claimed that the protesters led by lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar attacked the army checkpost, while the PTM claimed the army opened fire on peaceful protesters.
Wazir was subsequently arrested and sent on remand, followed by demonstrations in the tribal districts and other parts of the country.
PM Imran, who remained silent over the incident for two days, reportedly denounced the “attack” on a security checkpost in North Waziristan.
The special assistant said that the prime minister announced development schemes worth Rs102 billion to heal the wounds of the tribal people.
She said the prime minister has also brought the tribal people into the main political process and his initiative also started a new chapter of peace and development in the areas which were once considered no-go areas.
Awan said incidents, such as an alleged attack on the security checkpost, is a conspiracy to impede the development in the tribal districts.
She said the cabinet expressed reservations on the acts of these handful militant elements and decided that the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments and entire Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder for the protection of rights of the tribal people.
Special Assistant on Information said the prime minister had already asked the provinces to contribute three per cent from the NFC [National Finance Commission] to meet the development needs of tribal districts.
The cabinet also reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken in the last 42 sittings.
Firdous Ashiq Awan said of the 819 decisions taken by the cabinet, 584 decisions were implemented whilst implementation on the remaining has been made time bound.
The PM directed the relevant ministers to fulfill their responsibilities for the implementation of the decisions taken in the best interest of the public welfare.
The secretary cabinet division informed the meeting that a mechanism has been put in place to ensure progress on the cabinet decisions.