Federal Budget presented for approval in National Assembly by PTI led Govt.
Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar has unveiled the first budget for fiscal year 2019-20 of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government with an outlay of Rs 7 trillion, in the National Assembly (NA) in Islamabad, today.
In his budget speech, the minister said that the government has a brought a new thought, new commitment and new approach to governance.
He said it is time to lift the people who have been left behind and recalled the economic situation the government has faced since coming into power.
Hammad Azhar said: “Pakistan s total debt has reach Rs31 trillion. We are deeply indebted thanks to high-interest loans. Foreign exchange reserves had dropped below $10 billion. The current account deficit had reached a historic peak of $20bn, while the trade deficit had reached $32bn. The fiscal deficit was more than Rs2.26tr.”
He said: “US$7 billion reduction in Current Account Deficit will be achieved this year, which will be 6.5 billion dollars next year.”
The minister said current account deficit will be reduced to 6.5pc in FY19-20 and exports will be boosted through a revised duty structure. “Power and gas will be cheapened and Free Trade Agreements will be re-evaluated,” he said and added Pakistan will be made a part of the international value chain.
Azhad said we borrowed a total of $9.2 billion from China, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, adding that the government empowered State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
“A total of 11 per cent tax to GDP ratio currently, was the lowest in the region,” he said and added there were only 50 percent of SECP registered companies paying tax. “We will have to change this culture.”
The minister said that circular debt was reduced by Rs12 billion per month and it was brought down to 26 billion rupees from 38 billion rupees.
Given the current economic situation, Hammad Azhar said the government has acted with responsibility and taken steps for the economic stabilization, adding that we have increased import duty which helped us bring down imports from US$49 billion to US$45 billion.
He said remittances have witnessed an increase of US$2 billion, He said the IMF package will also help the country steer the economy towards stability.
Azhar went on to say that in Naya Pakistan, the culture of tax evasion will be overcome. Civil and Defense authorities have agreed to voluntary reduced in their budgets. The minister of state said our aim during the financial year 2019-20 will be to increase the tax net.
Regretting the low tax to GDP ratio, he said the country cannot make progress without payment of taxes. He appreciated the gesture of both the civilian government and the military leadership for voluntarily deciding to cut their expenditures.
The Asset Declaration Scheme will bring the undeclared assets into mainstream and help increase revenue of the government.
In the health sector, the key initiatives to widen the coverage of health care spending and achieve health targets include increase in the number of paramedical staff, expansion of lady health workers program, strengthening of primary healthcare with backup of skilled personnel including women, medical officers in basic health units, establishment of health emergency surveillance and response system, implementation of a national plan for vaccination and establishing a health information and disease surveillance system.
Micro health insurance schemes will be made part of existing social safety nets to extend health coverage to the vulnerable segments of the society.
The government s planned initiatives for employment and skill development during the next year will help alleviate unemployment in the country. The plan focuses to provide and promote technical and vocational training by extending geographical access through the public private partnership in market demand trades.