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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Amid Battling COVID-19, Pakistan’s Budget For FY 2020-21 Announced

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar took the floor to exhibit a budget of Rs 7.14 trillion, the size 11% lower than the budget of 2019-20

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Umar Zaidi
Umar Zaidi
Writer is a broadcast journalist/political analyst. He writes on Twitter as _journo.

Pakistan, Islamabad – The PTI-led government of Pakistan presented their second budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 in the National Assembly, here on Friday. Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar took the floor to exhibit a budget of Rs 7.14 trillion, the size 11% lower than the budget of 2019-20.

Hammad Azhar apprised that no new taxes were imposed for the relief of the people due to the ongoing pandemic which had grasped the big economies around the globe. He added that the kits about diagnose coronavirus and cancer would be tax-free, while import taxes on kids’ food supplements had been lifted. Rs 80 billion apportioned to tackle coronavirus and other diseases. Also, the sales tax for the retail sector had been reduced by 2%.

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The defense budget had been swelled to 12% making it to Rs 1.289 trillion amid the ongoing tensions with India on borders. Rs 34 billion had been assigned for higher education. For water & power projects, Rs 80 billion had been allocated, while health and science & technology sectors to get the grant of Rs 20 billion each. Rs 6 billion are to be spent battling climate change, while Rs 40 billion allocated for Pakistan Railways. To ensure relief for the agriculture sector and countering locusts, Rs 10 billion had been issued. Water resources to get the share of Rs 69 billion, while the Kamyab Jawaan program to get Rs 2 billion. Rs 208 billion to be dished out to the Ehsaas program, while the Naya Pakistan Housing scheme has to get Rs 30 billion to build low-cost houses for the lower-middle-class people. Projects about Telecommunication to get the hold of Rs 40 billion, hospitals coming under the banner of the federal government to get the share of Rs 13 billion. The government had also allocated Rs 1 billion for the well-being of artistes, which was Rs 250 million in the budget of FY 2019-20. For non-tax revenue, Rs 1,610 billion are to be designated, while e-governance to get the hold of Rs 1 billion.

The house further told that the tax on cigarettes, cigars, and batteries had been elevated from 25% to 100%. Unlike other budgets, there had been no increase in the salaries of government employees. Rs 1,324 billion had been put for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), out of this, Rs 676 billion to be given to the provinces. The resource availability evaluated at Rs 6,314.9 billion against Rs 4,917.2 billion in the budget estimates of last year. Also, the provincial share in federal taxes is assessed at Rs 2,873.7 billion, 11.7% lower than the budget estimates for 2019-20.

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The minister also vowed to uplift GDP growth from -0.4% to 2.1%. He added that the state of the economy of the country was impaired when his party took charge of the government after the elections of 2018. The total debt of Pakistan was Rs 31 trillion, while the current account deficit was soared to the highest ever Rs 20 billion. Pakistani currency was artificially over-valued for a long period, resulting in lesser exports and an increase in imports. The country was on a verge of defaulter as the foreign reserves of the State bank of Pakistan were reduced from $18 billion to $10 billion. In these uncanny circumstances, he added that the PTI-led government under the guidance of Prime Minister Imran Khan worked tirelessly to enhance the growth rate of GDP and stable the economy. The session held following the SOPs amid ongoing pandemic.

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