Pakistan's federal budget: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan's coalition government has decided to open its coffers for massive public spending during the next financial year. According to media reports, it is also being seen as the strongest signal by the government to hold the general elections on time this year. The evidence has been gleaned from the 31 per cent hike in the next fiscal year’s federal development budget to Rs 950 billion, the Express Tribune reported.
The decision to increase the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from the earlier proposed Rs 700 billion to Rs 950 billion was taken by Prime Minister Sharif, minutes before the scheduled meeting of the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) on Friday.
According to reports, the confusion was apparent as the Ministry of Planning had distributed the APCC working paper among all stakeholders based on the Rs 700 billion PSDP size. But Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told the media that the size of the PSDP will be Rs 950 billion.
Recommendation by APCC
Subsequently, the APCC recommended a Rs 2.5 trillion cumulative national development outlay for spending by the federal government and the four provinces. The Rs 2.5 trillion allocation was Rs 90 billion or 4 per cent higher than the ongoing fiscal year ending on June 30.
The APCC also approved a 3.5 per cent GDP growth target with sectoral growth of 3.5 per cent in agriculture, 3.4 per cent in industries and 3.6 per cent in services for the fiscal year 2023-24. The inflation target for the next fiscal year is set at 21 per cent.
Budget likely to be presented on June 9
The budget 2023-24 is expected to be presented before the parliament on June 9 and after a discussion, it would be voted upon before the end of June. The current parliament will complete its term by mid-August, elections are expected by early October.
It is rumoured that as provided in the Constitution, the parliament under extraordinary circumstances may increase its term by one year, but the size of the PSDP shows that the government is entering into election mode, the report added.
(With PTI inputs)