Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Saturday expressed confidence that the government would easily achieve the 3.5 percent growth target of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) set for the upcoming fiscal year with effective and transparent utilization of massive development funds it allocated for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP 2023-24).
Addressing the Post-Budget news briefing in Islamabad on Saturday, he said the budget envisages several measures for the sectors of agriculture, Small and Medium Enterprises, Information Technology to achieve the objective of economic growth.
The Finance Minister said the growth target of 3.5 percent set for the next fiscal year is easily achievable. He said the IMF expects 3.5 percent, while Bloomberg and Fitch both project it at four percent, which means that we have set a modest and doable target. He said the government has taken the PSDP to the historic high of 1150 billion rupees and the transparent implementation of the plan will help achieve the growth target set for the next fiscal year.
Talking about macroeconomic indicators, Ishaq Dar said inflation is projecting at 21 percent, FBR revenue collection to GDP 8.7 percent, overall deficit 6.54 percent, primary balance 0.4 percent and public debt to GDP 66.5 percent. He said the previous PML-N government had left this figure at 63 percent, which rose to 74 percent during the last PTI-led regime. He said debt to GDP means a lot and a core indicator and we are pitching this figure at 66.5 percent, while GDP is expected at 105.8 trillion rupees.
The Finance Minister said the government is preparing a scheme of concessional loans for agro-based SMEs and sufficient funds for this initiative have been allocated in the budget. He said we also plan to establish a special zone for the IT sector.
Ishaq Dar said no new taxation measures have been taken in the new budget. He said the government has no intention to increase the rate of petroleum development levy. He also clarified that sales tax has not been levied on the packaged milk. He said the sales tax on import of edible oil has not been abolished. He said that the recent reduction in the prices of edible oil is the result of international trends.
The Finance Minister said the government has allocated 35 billion rupees for in budget for provision of targeted subsidy on essential items, including ghee and flour through Utility Stores. He said the budget of BISP has massively been enhanced to 450 billion rupees to support segments of society.
Ishaq Dar said the Sharia Complaint products under National Savings will be launched from next month.
The Minister once again categorically stated that Pakistan will not default, stressing that the country has ensured payment of external liabilities in the past and will do so in future as well. He was confident that the European countries will extend the GSP-Plus statues of Pakistan. To a question, he made it clear that Pakistan has no plan go for rescheduling of Paris Club or multilateral debt. He once again said that we will make all the payments on time.
Ishaq Dar said that two committees are being constituted in the FBR to address anomalies if any in the budget. He said these committees will take effect from Monday. He also assured that due consideration will be given to the recommendations of the Senate as well as the standing committees on Finance of the parliament.