Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presents budget for FY2017-18

Pakistan's Finance Minister introduces a $50 billion development-heavy budget that also promises a 7 per cent increase in military spending.

Talking about growth of utilities, he said there was 3.4 per cent increase recorded in electricity, gas supply in the existing fiscal year.

"The 5.28 percent growth is less than our target but still is [a] huge improvement to the 3.5 per cent when the government took over in 2013", he said. Large-scale manufacturing posted a 4.9pc growth, well behind its 5.9pc target even though it performed better than last year's 2.9pc increase. He said national economy has crossed 300 billion dollars threshold.

"The farmers were demanding to call off general sales tax (GST), however the crackdown by the government reflects their dictatorial approach", he said.

He said it was an honour to present the fifth budget of this government as "we achieved different milestones during last four years, including budget deficit, inflation, foreign exchange reserves, tax collection, and GDP growth in different sectors of the economy".

The allocation for defence in the upcoming budget is Rs 945 billion, showing an increase of Rs 85 billion in the defence budget as compared to 2016-17 budget.

On the expenses side, the government allocated Rs3,477 billion for "current expenditure", and Rs1,275 billion for development expenditure.

The minister said that during July-March FY17, total expenditures stood at Rs4,383.6 billion (13.8 percent of GDP) against Rs3,971.3 billion (13.6 percent of GDP) in the same period of a year ago.

Highlighting the energy sector reforms, Dar said 10,000MW will be added to the national grid by 2018.

Majority of population is under 20 years of age, thus our focus is on them, said the minister.

The minister announced 10 percent increase in pensions, and also said that minimum wages have been increased to Rs 15,000 per month.

Likewise, he said that under the budgetary proposal, Rs 6 billion has been allocated for housing sector.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) yesterday, Dagha pledged to promote consultation with the private sector to make policies more effective, believing that policies framed in isolation could not give desired results.

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah arrived at the site of the protest shortly after it started to express solidarity withe the protesters.

He said the government will focus on further promoting agriculture and information technology sectors.

Pakistan on Friday proposed to hike its defence budget by almost 7% to Rs920 billion amid growing tension with India along the Line of Control.

  • Zachary Reyes