Finance minister Miftah explains govt won’t announce any mini-budget in current fiscal year n Reiterates govt will bring economic stability, overcoming power shortfall in next summer n PTI govt increased country’s debt by 80pc to Rs45 trillion.

ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan would receive around $10.5 billion from friendly countries and international financial institutions during current fiscal year following the deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revive loan programme.

Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Saturday said that Pakistan would receive $6.5 billion from multilateral sources in current fiscal year. He further said that $3.5 billion inflow is expected from Asian Development Bank (ADB), $2.5 billion from the World Bank, $500 million Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and some from Islamic Development Bank during the ongoing financial year following the deal with the IMF.

He informed the media that the government is also expecting $4 billion financial assistance and defer payment facilities from friendly countries. Without naming the countries, Miftah Ismail said that one friendly country would provide defer oil payment facility of $1.2 billion to Pakistan. Meanwhile, another country would make investment of $1.5 to $2 billion in stock cash deposit. Similarly, a friendly country would provide gas on defer oil payment facility to Pakistan.

He reiterated to bring economic stability and overcoming electricity shortfall in next summer. The government would bring inflation rate down from existing 20 percent. Meanwhile, the government would also build the foreign exchange reserves. He clarified that the government would not announce any mini budget in current fiscal year to meet its targets.

The finance minister said that the coalition government has saved the country from default by taking tough decision and it has been put on the track of economic stability.  Sharing bad economic performance of the previous PTI government, he said that the previous regime had increased the country’s debt by 80 percent to Rs45 trillion, which was around Rs25 trillion in 2018. Meanwhile, it had registered four record highest budget deficits. Average annual budget deficit in last four years of PTI government was Rs3600 billion as against to average deficit of Rs1600 billion during PML-N’s tenure.  Trade deficit had also swelled to highest ever $48 billion and current account deficit to $17 billion, minister added.

Despite taking massive loans, average Rs5000 billion per year; the PTI government had not completed any mega projects in power, railways, roads or in health sector. On the other hand, Miftah claimed that PML-N government had taken average loan of Rs2120 billion per year and completed mega projects in the country including power projects, infrastructure and others.

He informed that PTI’s government had promised with the IMF to impose Rs30 petroleum levy and 17 percent General Sales Tax on oil products, which should have increase the prices by Rs75 per litre. However, the incumbent government has imposed only Rs10 per litre levy on petrol and Rs5 per litre on diesel. Later, after the no confidence motion, the PTI government had breached the agreement with IMF, which resulted in stopping loans from the Fund, ADB and WB at the time when country needed $21 billion financing to repay previous loans and $9 billion to keep foreign exchange reserves higher. He criticized the previous government for announcing tax amnesty scheme for industrialists at the time when country needs revenue.

Finance minister vowed to meet the tax collection target as well as non-tax collection during current fiscal year. He added that government would reduce the budget deficit by Rs1000 billion during ongoing financial year despite increasing provinces share from divisible pool, enhancing development budget and providing subsidy at Utility Stores Corporation (USC). The government has also increase the salaries and pensions in the budget. He said that government would reduce the oil prices whenever it declines in international market.

Miftah Ismail said that pressure on local currency would ease after July as imports are projected to decline. He said that currency has appreciated against Euro, Pound and Yen. However, it depreciated only against US dollar.

He added that the government would protect the poor segment of the society from power and gas tariffs hike.

Finance minister said Pakistan Railways and Pakistan International Airline had announced to reduce their fairs after decline in oil prices. The provincial governments were also directed to take measures to bring down fares in inter-city and intra-city to facilitate the passengers.

Meanwhile, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved $200 million for Pakistan for transforming the agricultural sector by adopting climate-smart technologies to improve water-use efficiency, build resilience to extreme weather events and increase incomes of small farmers.

The agricultural sector in Punjab is central to the Pakistan’s economy and food security as it accounts for 73 percent of the country’s total food production. The Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation Project (PRIAT) will increase agricultural productivity through efficient and equitable access to water for small farms. It will support farmers at the community and household levels to adopt climate-smart farming practices and technologies that improve crop yields and conserve water resources in Punjab.

“In recent years Pakistan’s agriculture sector has suffered from losses in crop yields and livestock, damage to irrigation infrastructure, and food shortages due to climate change, particularly severe droughts in the Punjab province,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “This project aligns with the Punjab Agriculture Policy 2018, which promotes massive expansion of water conservation efforts, enhancing sustainability and resilience in the wake of climate change, and private sector participation to help boost the productivity of the sector.”

PRIAT will support farmers implement innovative, climate-smart technologies to help the Punjab government achieve economies of scale to transform the agricultural sector.

“The agriculture sector has a huge opportunity to both build climate resilience and improve economic conditions by generating access to domestic and international markets,” said Guo Li, Task Team Leader for the project. “PRIAT will help accelerate the government’s efforts to transform the agri-food system through market-oriented production activities that add value, increase competitiveness and generate higher incomes for farmers.”

The project will benefit about 190,000 small, family-owned farms and 1.4 million acres of irrigated land in rural communities in the province.