Chairing the cabinet meeting with members of his choice, the Prime Minister reviewed the Budget Strategy Plan presented by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. Prime Minister said during the meeting that upcoming budget will be more focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive growth. He delegated the ministers to identify opportunities to increase growth and generate employment opportunities. He also said that Government is determined to increase investments in both physical and human infrastructures across Pakistan; in order to achieve this highest priority will be given to increase development and reducing poverty. The time has now come for people of Pakistan to reap the rewards from economic policies of Government.
It was for the first time in last 15 years that budget was not presented to full cabinet, as it has been the norm to receive expert input from all cabinet ministers. During the meeting, the Prime Minister’s office said that government aims to bring fiscal deficit down to 4% of the GDP by 2020, lower than earlier fiscal deficit values of 3.8% and 3.5% for the years 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively as approved by parliament. However, despite the expansionary policy, government brought down the growth estimates from 7.2% to 7% for the next year. The decline is due to the slower than expected growth during current fiscal year. BSP estimates next year’s revenue to be at around Rs 4.1 trillion where as the size of federal budget is Rs 4.74 trillion.
The Prime minister also appreciated the current stock market performance soon to reach market capitalization of $100 billion. Finance Minister, Mr. Dar said that regarding the upcoming budget that the government has devised a long term macro plan aimed at increasing foreign reserves and reducing fiscal deficit. The meeting also apprised the government’s continued stance on providing incentives to farmer community for enhancing agriculture activity and output.
Furthermore, the Finance Secretary informed the meeting that despite the numerous challenges faced by economy, Pakistan’s economy was moving in the right direction. He also apprised the meeting about measures taken during current fiscal year to maintain inflation below 4.2%. He told cabinet that credit to private sector had grown by 53% and to agriculture by 23%. He said in order to achieve the targeted growth of 6percent further measures will be taken in the agricultural, industrial services sector of the economy.