Pakistan’s lower house approves budget 2019-20
Islamabad: Pakistan’s National Assembly or the lower house of the parliament has approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year starting on July 1, Special Assistant to Pakistani PM on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said.
Following the approval on Friday, the special assistant told media that the combined opposition tried to block the process to pass the budget but the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf along with its allies comfortably mustered the required majority of the house members to pass the Finance Bill 2019-20, Xinhua news agency reported.
The government presented the budget before the lower house on June 11 with a total outlay of 7.022 trillion rupees (USD 43.88 billion) with a focus on fiscal consolidation, austerity measures, revenue mobilization, development projects and protection to the vulnerable segments of society.
The ruling coalition rejected all the amendments to the finance bill moved by the opposition members with a majority of 175 votes against the 146 votes in the 342-members house.
The budget bill will now be sent to President Arif Alvi for approval to make it come into force starting July 1, 2019.
Following the presidential assent, the austerity-oriented budget will bring a 10 per cent cut in ministers’ salaries, slash in government’s running expenses by 23 billion rupees and subsidy cut on gas and electricity bills. However, the salaries of government employees and the pension of retired persons will be increased by 10 per cent.
Pakistan’s Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar told the house that Pakistan’s trade deficit has dropped by USD 4 billion to USD 22 billion during the outgoing fiscal year with some special measures mainly by decreasing imports.
The minister vowed to bring a seven billion-U.S. dollar reduction in the country’s current account deficit next year by improving revenue and slashing expenses. On the government’s revenue, Azhar said that the government has set a target of 5.82 trillion rupees out of which 5.56 trillion will be collected through different taxes.
According to the minister, the government is likely to get a loan of USD 6 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund and USD 3 billion worth of fuel on deferred payments from Saudi Arabia.