‘Govt to present next budget by end of May’

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  • Finance secretary says assets declaration scheme will be finalised by next week with amendments directed by Dr Hafeez Shaikh

ISLAMABAD: The government will be presenting the Federal Budget 2018-19 by the end of next month, a government official revealed on Wednesday.

Talking to media after the meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Finance Secretary Younus Dagha said that his ministry has expedited its work with regard to the next fiscal budget as well as the amnesty scheme.

“The assets declaration scheme, which has already been discussed in the cabinet, will be finalized by the next week with the amendments directed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh,” he stated.

Talking about the bailout negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF), the secretary said that the IMF mission was likely to visit Pakistan between April 27 and April 30 for final talks.

According to sources, Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to meet IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on April 26th in China. The meeting between both parties was finalised in a high level contact between the federal government and the IMF, sources said.

Meanwhile, as Pakistan is facing another challenge of meeting the conditions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the committee was given an in-camera briefing on matters pertaining to FATF.

The committee was briefed in this regard by the finance secretary, Federal Board of Revenue chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) commissioner and officials of the State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Counter Terrorism Authority Pakistan.

During the meeting, chaired by MNA Faizullah, the finance secretary informed that there was an increase of 23pc in financing by banks to the agriculture sector during the ongoing fiscal year.

“The banks during July 2018 to February 2019 had released Rs702 billion in loans to the agriculture sector against Rs570 billion loans recorded during the same period of last financial year,” he added.

Discussing the work plan assigned by the Special Committee on Agriculture Products to uplift agriculture development, the committee was briefed by the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council chairman that PARC has already proposed three research and development projects in the budget 2019-20 in this regard.

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research additional secretary apprised the committee that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2018 conducted a knowledge creation exercise on ‘Punjab Basmati Rice Value Chain Analysis’ and currently, ADB was working on ‘Punjab Sustained Agriculture Growth through Enhanced Agriculture Management by means of a Technical Assistance’.

“The TA would result in a loan of up to $100 million in the coming years,” he said, adding that the World Bank was funding various agriculture projects in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The committee recommended the ministry and PARC to prepare a comprehensive presentation along with their recommendations for improvement of research and development in the agriculture sector. It further recommended the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to prepare working papers in line with the given agenda by the Special Committee on Agriculture Products.

Earlier, the committee considered ‘The Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019, moved by Sajida Begum. The SBP executive director informed the committee that necessary measures have been taken by the central bank to address the salient features of said bill.

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