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From stability onwards to growth | By Muhammad Zahid Rifat

From stability onwards to growth

NEW federal budget for financial year 2021-22 has quite expectedly sailed through smoothly through the National Assembly, passed on the second last day of last financial year on June 29 and budgetary measures have already got in action throughout the country in the right earnest hopefully.

This was PTI led coalition government’s third budget which was presented by its fourth Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin as a successor to Asad Omer, Dr Hafeez Shaikh and Hammad Azhar.

His full name, which is not known to may around, is Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin and he has previously also shouldered the heavy responsibility as the Minister for Finance and Revenue though the ruling party was different. The incumbent PTI led coalition government completes its three years in August 2021.

There is no denying of the fact that the federal government headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan has been facing numerous economic challenges besides other internal and external issues and problems during its being in the office for almost three years.

The PM and his team of economic managers in a determined and committed manner been facing the economic challenges squarely and boldly taking all difficult decisions required and successfully progressing from recovery and stabilization of the national economy to sustainable growth.

In order to ensure its march onwards from stability to growth despite prevalence of pandemic of COVID-19, the federal government has fixed a number of priorities to be pursued during the financial year 2021-22.

These priorities include inclusive and sustainable economic growth; pro-poor initiatives and social safety net through the Ehsaas Programmes’ vertical and horizontal expansion; reduction in inflation and price hike control and monitoring; increased development spending for ensuring maximum job opportunities creation; initiatives of the Prime Minister including Kamyab Jawan and Kissan Programmes; impact mitigation of COVID-10 and continuation of the Stimulus Package; circular debt financing and power sector subsidies; revenue mobilization without new taxes; continuing support of the Housing Sector and the Construction Industry through Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme sand Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) support programme; facilitating expatriates remittances and savings through Roshan Digital Account, and; continuing pursuing Pakistan Remittances initiatives and other schemes.

As per information available from official sources concerned and relevant budget documents and avoiding mentioning facts and figures to the maximum extent, main objectives underlying the new federal budget are also many.

These include a) striking a balance between fiscal deficits due to COVID-19 and boosting growth of the national economy, b) striking and maintaining primary balance at a sustainable level, c) protection of social spending under the Ehsaas Programme to continuing supporting vulnerable segments of the society, d) resource mobilization with required changes in tax structure, e) successful continuation of the ongoing International Monetary Programme (IMF), f) carrying forward the Stimulus Package, g) keeping the development budget at an adequately appropriate level to stimulate sustainable economic growth coupled with policy support, h) funding of crucial Housing initiatives including Naya Pakistan Housing project to boost the construction sector, i) adequate funding for the special areas ie erstwhile FATA, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan for ensuring their accelerated development.

j) continuation of special initiatives of the Prime Minister like Kamyab Jawan, Sehat Card, Billion Tree Tsunami etc, k) austerity and control of non-productive expenditure, l) rationalization of subsidy regime to provide targeted subsidy to the deserving segments of the society, and m)revising the NFC Award and also persuading the provinces to fulfill their funding commitments made at time of merger of erstwhile FATA in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa.

Performance and achievements of the incumbent federal government during just ended financial year 2020-21 will mentioned briefly and separately some other time.

—The writer is Lahore-based, retired Deputy Controller (News), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.