Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said that focus of the next year’s budget would be on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive growth. He directed the Cabinet members to accord priority to the areas under their domain that could lead to improved economic growth and generate additional employment opportunities.
The Prime Minister was chairing the Cabinet meeting on `Budget Strategy Paper 2017-20′. He said that the Government was determined to increase investments in both human and physical infrastructures. In this regard, highest priority would be accorded to increase in development budget and poverty reduction. He said that the time has come for the nation to reap the benefits of economic policies of the Government.
The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked members of the Cabinet to suggest measures which would discourage Hundi and other informal channels for money transfers leading thereby to increased foreign remittances through regular channels. The Prime Minister appreciated market capitalization in the stock exchange that would soon touch $100 billion. The Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said that the Government had devised a medium-term macro-economic strategy to increase foreign reserves and reduce fiscal deficit. He said that as per the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitations Act, the fiscal deficit of the federal government would be brought down to 4% of GDP by June 2020.
The upcoming budget will demonstrate fiscal prudence while focusing on key investment sectors such as CPEC, energy, communications, poverty reduction etc, he said and added that fiscal prudence would provide impetus to lower inflation, higher investments and low public debts. The Finance Minister also stated that government had initiated a study on revaluation of the GDP as many sectors were currently not fully recorded in the national accounts.
For the budget year 2017-18, he said that the government would aim to achieve 6 percent of economic growth and enhance efforts to increase revenue generation. The meeting was also informed about the government’s resolve to provide incentives to the farmer community for enhancing agriculture productivity.
It was apprised that the Prime Minister’s agriculture package has yielded positive impact on the agriculture output as demonstrated by bumper crops of sugar-cane, wheat and maize. The Finance Secretary on the occasion made a detailed presentation on the current state of the economy, outline of the budget 2017-18 and the medium-term macroeconomic framework. He apprised the members of the Cabinet that despite challenges, Pakistan’s economy was moving in the right direction. He mentioned that the inflation has been contained to 4.09% in the first nine months of the current financial year. He said that the credit to private sector has grown by 53% and agriculture credit has risen by 23% in the first ten months as compared to the same period last year.
In order to achieve 6 percent of economic growth, the Finance Secretary said that the measures would be taken to enhance growth in agriculture, industrial and services sectors of the economy.