- Opposition criticise increase in charged expenditure including debt servicing;
- Dar says economy is now on positive trajectory; Oil production risen to 1,50,000 BPD
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Friday started budget approval process by adopting 94 demands for grants and appropriations for the next financial year relating to different ministries, divisions and departments.
These demands related, among others, to Defence Services; Defence Production Division; Finance Division; Higher Education; Federal Education and Professional Training Division, National Savings, Superannuation allowances and Pensions, Grants-in-aid; Privatization Division; Revenue Division, FBR, Pakistan Post, Housing and Works; Information and Broadcasting; Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan; Law and Justice; Council of Islamic Ideology; National Health Services; Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Division; Planning and Development; Ports and Shipping; Pakistan Railways; Religious Affairs Ministry; FATA; Textile Industry Division; Commerce Division; IT and Telecom; and National Food Security and Research.
Earlier the House held discussion on the Charged Expenditure included in Demands for Grants and Appropriations for the financial year ending 30th June, 2016.
Over 10156.93 billion rupees Charged Expenditure relating to different departments and counts were presented in the House. The departments included Pakistan Post Office, Foreign Affairs Division, Law, Justice and Human Rights Division, National Assembly, Senate, Pakistan Railways, External Development Loans and Advances by the Federal Government, Repayment of Domestic Debt, Servicing of Foreign Debt, Supreme Court, Islamabad High Court, Election, Wafaqi Mohtasib and Federal Tax Ombudsman.
Criticizing the Charged Expenditure, Opposition members urged the government to move towards controlling expenditures, reducing loans and fiscal discipline. They said due to reduction in oil prices, inflation has decreased but its full benefit has not been transferred to the people. They stressed the need for keeping prices of daily use items at affordable level to help the poor. They were of the view that there are mismanagement in Pakistan Post Office Department and facing four billion rupees loss annually. They said the performance of the department should be improved. They stressed the need for providing development funds to women members for carrying out development in their constituencies. They said the budget should be prepared on need basis. They demanded timely release of funds by the federal government to the provinces from divisible pool. They were of the view that we as a nation have failed to manage the economy. They said the corrupt people should be held accountable. They said poverty in the country is increasing. They said the country’s economy is trapped in low growth cycle and foreign debt and added that increase in growth is imperative to come out of debt trap. They criticized twenty five billion rupees bailout package and over hundred billion rupees loans to Pakistan Railways. They said there is a need for tax reforms and change in the life style.
Those who took part in the discussion included Dr. Azra Fazal, Arif Alvi, Sheikh Rashid, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Sahibzada Tariqullah, Asif Hasnain, Shazia Marri, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Sher Akbar Khan, Dr. Nafeesa Shah, Shireen Mazari, Amjad Ali Khan and Ghulam Sarwar Khan.
Winding up debate on current expenditures Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government is striving to bring down the budget deficit to five percent which will help reduce debt and improve economy. He said the government will welcome solid suggestions by the members of the parliament to further improve budget and make it more viable.
Ishaq Dar said the country was facing huge debt when the present government assumed power but it made strenuous efforts to offload the debt of international financial institutions without any rescheduling. He said we took loans from the International Monetary Fund to repay the old loans.
The Finance Minister said the economy is now on positive trajectory as our oil production has also risen from seventy four thousand barrel per day to one hundred and fifty thousand barrels per day.
Ishaq Dar said steps are afoot to boost the country’s exports besides visible increase in revenues through taxes which will help put the country on the path of sustainable development. He said Pakistan is making payments to the international institutions well in time and these institutions are appreciating the positive signals in the economic sector.