Target of next year’s budget is fiscal consolidation & provision of relief to masses: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has said the target of next year’s budget is fiscal consolidation and provision of relief to the masses.

Addressing the post budget press conference in Islamabad today along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurengzab, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha, he said that the budget of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has been increased by thirty-five to forty percent. He said that flour, sugar and ghee will be provided on discounted rates at Utility Stores Corporation throughout the year.

The Finance Minister said the government has taken difficult decisions keeping in view the interest of the country. We have reduced our expenditures as well as subsidy on power and gas to reduce deficits.

Miftah Ismail said that tax collection target of over seven thousand billions rupees has been set for next fiscal year while non-tax revenue target has been set at two thousand billion rupees. He said the debt servicing has been estimated at  3950 billion rupees.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said we have imposed additional taxes on the well-off people while efforts have been made to reduce the tax on personal income tax.  He said Pakistan is a dignified nuclear power state and we will have to correct the course of our economy.

Alluding to the soaring prices of palm oil in the international market, the Finance Minister said the package of 20 billion rupees have been given to promote the cultivation of oil seeds.

The Finance Minister said special emphasis is being given to bolster our exports, expressing the confidence that these will touch 35 billion dollars mark in the next fiscal year.

The Finance Minister said as the agriculture sector development is on top of the government’s agenda, it has decided to withdraw duties and taxes on different agriculture implements, including seeds and agro-machinery.

He reaffirmed the government’s firms commitment to upgrade and uplift local agriculture sector on modern lines and provide special incentives on farm mechanization in order to enhance per-acre output of all major and minor crops to fulfill the local needs.

The Minister said the Ministry of National Food Security and Planning Ministry in consultation with the provinces has also devised a three-year strategy for the agriculture development.

He said the government has also proposed to withdraw sales tax on the agriculture inputs and farm machinery, including tractors and other implements, besides different seeds, including maize, canola and sunflower and rice, are also exempted from the sales tax.

In her remarks, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that our aim is to ensure economic stability and take the country towards the track of growth. She said the philosophy of the budget in these difficult times had been to put minimum burden on the comman man.  He said we are providing relief to the common man and this includes the cash amount of two thousand rupees to the deserving families. 

Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that subsidy has been given to the farmers to enhance agro productivity and cut the import bill of food items.  She said reducing budget deficit and non-imposition of indirect taxes are anti-inflationary measures which were taken to protect the poor.

The Minister clarified that the salary raise of fifteen percent has been given on the pay scales of 2017 and then the ad hoc reliefs will be merged.