The federal government has already embarked upon fifth and last year of its stipulated five years constitutional tenure after successfully completing four years with an appreciable good record of better economic performance and positive indicators with quite realistic, doable and achievable targets for ensuring sustained economic growth. Though the federal budget for financial year 2017-18 was presented bit earlier in the fourth week of May 2017 but the new fiscal had only commenced from July 1, 2017 which has been decades old parliamentary and traditionally practice.

It is worth mentioning here that while fixing the economic targets for the current financial year, the government had duly kept Medium Term Goals 2017-20 in this regard in view.

Since the first quarter of current financial year has already passed, the achievements of the federal government ware either been mentioned in between or given on the whole at the end of the article.

Most importantly, economic growth target for the next fiscal has been fixed at 6 per cent as against 5.7 per cent for the last financial year. The government would be making concerted efforts for achieving the target for economic growth and at the same time enhances the efforts to increase revenue generation.

It is pertinent to mention here that this will be for the first time after more than two decades that Pakistan will be achieving more than 5 per cent growth rate. That too without any external aid or war related inflows. Achievement of 7 per cent economic growth rate, official sources maintained on being contacted, that Pakistan had achieved during the last decade was the result of foreign aid flows more than anything else.

Likewise, budget deficit target has been fixed at 4.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) against revised target of 4.1 per cent of GDP for fiscal year 2017. The budget deficit which stood at somewhat higher at 8.2 per cent of the GDP in FY 2013 when the present government took over reins of power had been brought down to 4.66 per cent in FY 2016. The federal fiscal deficit has also be brought down to 4 per cent of the GDP by June 2020, according to the new definition of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitations Act.

The total outlay of the new federal budget is Rs 5103.8 billion which is 4.3 per cent higher that the size of budget estimates 2016-17 i.e. Rs 4385.00 billion.

As is generally known, the federal budget mainly comprises development and non-development expenditures under various heads and is financed through tax collection , both direct and indirect ones, by the Federal Bureau of Revenue. Higher the tax collection means gap between the income and expenditure to be on the lower side but if the tax collection is less than what was initially projected then there is every possibility of either next axles and levies be imposed or adjustments be be in the existing tax structure in the Finance Bill.

Against this year’s figures of Rs 3.621 trillion for tax collection, main revenue generation agency Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been given higher tax collection target of Rs 4.00 trillion for the ongoing financial year. It is worth pointing out that FBR revenues have been estimated to increase during current financial year by 14 per cent against the federal government expenditures which are expected to grow by 11 per cent.

Estimates for investment to GDP are 17 per cent, strict measures will be taken to ensure inflation remains in one digit figure at 6 per cent, budget deficit is kept at 4.1 per cent of GDP through strict fiscal discipline, foreign exchange reserves level is maintained that can cover a minimum of four months imports of the country and targeted social interventions are also being continued during the current financial year. Measures will continue to be taken to boost exports and keep the imports limited only to essentially required items. The government has already announced in January 2017 Rs 180 billion exports package and this has started showing good results.

The federal government has already closed the first quarter July to September 2017 on strong fiscal performance.

Briefly, the FBR tax collections remained robust at Rs 765 billion as a result of which amounts transferred to the provinces have also increased substantially to Rs 570 billion so far, maintenance of strict fiscal discipline has helped the government in keeping its expenditure at Rs 894 billion, overall budget deficit was recorded at Rs 324 billion, in terms of its ratio with GDP it has decreased to 0.9 per cent, inflation has been contained , there were positive and strong growth in large-scale manufacturing and in exports and home remittances by Pakistani expatriats.

The focus of the federal budget for financial year 2017-18, as desired by the since former prime minister, is on achieving higher , sustainable and inclusive growth besides generating additional employment opportunities and increasing investments in both human and physical infrastructures. All this is quite appreciable and encouraging as everyone wants to see Pakistan making progress and development by leaps and bounds.

Needless to emphatically point out that the targets on economic front are quite realistic and achievable. Hopefully, focus on acceleration of economic growth ensuring continued reduction in unemployment and poverty in the country during remaining three quarters of financial year 2017-18 is maintained by the team of economic mangers of the federal government.