ISLAMABAD : A tax-free and relief oriented budget for the next fiscal year with a total outlay of 7294.9 billion rupees has been announced. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar presented the budgetary proposals in the National Assembly on Friday. The Minister said the gross revenue receipts have been estimated at 6573 billion rupees. The FBR tax collection target has been set at 4963 billion rupees while the non-tax revenue is estimated to be about 1610 billion rupees. Under the NFC Award, 2874 billion rupees will be transferred to the provinces. The provincial share in federal taxes is estimated at 2873.7 billion rupees. The net revenue receipts have been estimated at 3699.5 billion rupees indicating an increase of 6.7 percent over the budget estimates of the outgoing fiscal year. The net capital receipts have been estimated at 1463.2 billion rupees, which are 75.93 percent higher than the outgoing fiscal year. The Minister said the external receipts for the next year are estimated at 2222.9 billion rupees. The development expenditure outside PSDP has been estimated at 70 billion rupees in the budget. The total federal expenditures are estimated at 7,137 billion rupees with a budget deficit of 3437 billion rupees, which is seven percent of the GDP. The primary balance will remain -0.5 percent. The size of Public Sector Development Program for 2020-21 is 1324 billion rupees. Out of this, 676 billion rupees have been allocated to provinces. Federal PSDP has been estimated at 650 billion rupees, out of which 418.7 billion rupees for federal ministries and divisions, 100.4 billion rupees for corporations, 3 billion rupees for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority and seven billion rupees for COVID response and other natural calamities program. The Minister said the allocation for defence affairs and services is 1289 billion rupees. Giving salient features of the new budget strategy, the Minister said no new tax has been levied in the new budget in order to provide relief to the people. He said the proposed tax incentives will help spur the economic activities in the country. Hammad Azhar said the new budget aims at striking a balance between corona expenditures and fiscal deficit. It also aims to achieve primary balance. The Minister said it seeks to continue social expenditures for the assistance of vulnerable and weaker segments of society under Ehsaas program, besides continuing assistance of people during the next financial year to cope with coronavirus. Hammad Azhar said the budget document also attempts to keep development budget on appropriate level so that objectives of economic growth are achieved as well as jobs are created. He said significant attention has been given on defence and external security of the country. The budget aims to achieve improvement in revenues without unnecessary changes in taxes. Giving the targets set for next fiscal year, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said GDP growth target has been set at 2.1 percent, which remained negative four percent in the outgoing fiscal year. He said the current account deficit will be confined to 4.4 percent. The inflation will be brought down from 9.1 percent to 6.5 percent. The foreign direct investment will be enhanced by 25 percent. The Minister said 73 percent of the PSDP have been allocated for the ongoing schemes and 27 percent for the next projects. He said special emphasis has been given to the social sector. For this, allocations have been enhanced to 249 billion rupees from 206 billion rupees. He said the government has formulated a special development programme worth 70 billion rupees to offset the negative impact of Coronavirus pandemic and other calamities and improve the living standard of the people. Hammad Azhar said the government is focused to improve the power transmission system and reduce the circular debt. He said sufficient resources have been allocated for the provision of electricity to the special economic zones and the projects to be executed with foreign funding. For this purpose, the government has earmarked 80 billion rupees. These funds will especially be used to reduce the gap between electricity demand and supply. The Minister pointed out that Pakistan is faced with severe water shortage. He said the government this year will give special emphasis to the water related projects and in this connection 69 billion rupees have allocated. Ample resources have been allocated for big projects such as Diamer Bhasha dam, Mohmand and Dasu dams. The Minister said these projects will not only help increase water storage capacity and power generation but will also provide thirty thousand additional job opportunities. Hammad Azhar said the projects under National Highway Authority have also been given priority to promote businesses and industrial development in the country. In particular, sufficient resources have been earmarked for the CPEC-related projects including its western route. For this purpose, 118 billion rupees have been allocated. Similarly, 24 billion rupees have been earmarked for ML-1 and other projects of Pakistan Railways and additional funds of thirty-seven billion rupees for other projects of communication sector. Referring to the challenge posed by COVID-19 for the health sector, Hammad Azhar said 20 billion rupees have been allocated to improve the capacity of health institutions and production of health equipment with the aim to provide better health services and check diseases in the country. The Minister pointed out that the government also gave a mega stimulus package of 1200 billion rupees after the breakout of COVID-19. He said the purpose was to protect different segments from the impact of the virus. He expressed the confidence that the provincial governments will also play their part in the fight against COVID-19. The Minister said 10 billion rupees have been earmarked to provide relief to the agriculture sector and fight the crop munching locusts. Turning to the education sector, Hammad Azhar said five billion rupees have been allocated for reforms in this sector. He said steps will be taken to introduce a uniform curricula and quality examination system as well as establish smart schools and bring the seminaries into the national mainstream. He said higher education is one of the top priorities of the government. He said 30 billion rupees have been allocated to bring innovation in higher education sector with the aim to improve research and development in subjects such as artificial intelligence, automation and space technology. He said the government has increased budgetary allocations for Higher Education Commission from existing 59 billion rupees to 64 billion rupees. Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said assistance to poor and vulnerable segments of society is top priority of the government and for this purpose an integrated system has been devised under which all relevant institutions have been merged into newly constituted Poverty Alleviation and Social Security Division. He said budget for Ehsaas Programme has been increased to 208 billion rupees from the existing 187 billion rupees.