ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar is presenting the budget 2020-21 on Friday amid shouting from the opposition members.
The federal minister said that the government’s top two priorities have been battling corruption and ensuring accountability. He said that during the past five years, there had been no growth in exports.
“The reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan declined from $18bn to $10bn due to the failed policies of the past,” he said, adding that Pakistan had been placed on the FATF grey list due to the absence of concrete policies to keep terror financing and money laundering in check.
As the minister spoke, the opposition MNAs started waving protest banners in the parliament and shouted slogans against the government.
Azhar said that the government had been successful — during the past nine months — before COVID-19 proved to be a setback for the country’s economy — in reducing the trade deficit from $21bn to $15bn and the budget deficit was brought down to 3.8% by the incumbent government’s policies.
The minister said that the PTI government had increased employment opportunities for Pakistanis abroad which led to remittances increasing to $17bn.
Azhar said that the incumbent government had introduced structural reforms in state institutions. He said that a dedicated government task force has presented its report in which eight defunct organisations have been highlighted and 33 will be merged with others.
Touching upon the government’s efforts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said that the Centre is taking steps to ensure people’s lives are saved and economic activities go on.
“The coronavirus pandemic caused our GDP to shrink by Rs3,300bn,” he said, adding that the non-tax revenue declined by Rs102bn, adding to the country’s poverty and unemployment woes.
He said that to mitigate the damage done to various sectors by the coronavirus pandemic, the government provided Rs75bn for the health sector, Rs150bn was allocated for poor families and construction of Panah Gahs as well as Rs200bn for daily wage workers hit by the pandemic.
The minister noted that the government had provided relief worth Rs100bn in the form of electricity and gas bills whereas Short and Medium Enterprises were provided relief amounting to Rs50bn.
Azhar said that the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs32 per litre and Rs45 per litre. He said that the government had done away with the Fixed Tax Regime and provided WHT relief for the construction sector, all the while making the sector into an industry.
Opposition members chant slogans and bang desks to interrupt the federal minister as he presents the budget.
Azhar said that the government had put the inflation target at 6.5% and said that the Foreign Direct Investment will be increased by 25%. He said that Rs1,324bn had been set aside for the development budget while the PSDP had been provided Rs650bn.
This is a developing story and will be updated as further details are available.