$7.8 bn Pakistani development budget approved for 2010-11

Islamabad, May 28 (IANS) Pakistan’s National Economic Council (NEC) Friday approved a development budget of Rs.663 billion ($7.8 billion) for fiscal 2010-11 beginning July 1.

The NEC met here with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani in the chair to approve the development budget.

Briefing the media after the meeting, advisor to the prime minister on finance Hafiz Sheikh said the NEC meeting set the growth target of 5.5. percent for production, 4.7 for the services sector and 3.8 for the agriculture sector for the next fiscal.

The GDP growth rate during the current fiscal would be 4.1 percent and the target for the next financial year had been fixed at 4.5 percent, Sheikh indicated.

The budget will be presented in parliament in the first week of June.

The meeting also decided to meet every four months to review the progress in respect of development projects, Online news agency reported.

The government would curtail non-development expenses in the budget and the savings would be utilized for projects for the uplift of the people, the meeting decided.

Speaking on the occasion, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Nadim ul Haq said the inflation target for 2010-11 had been set at 9.5 percent. Rs.42 billion had been earmarked for hydropower projects in the federal PSDP, he added.

Responding to a question, the financial advisor said that defence expenses rose during the current fiscal due to the war against terrorism and the government had to curtail its development budget because of non-provision of coalition support funds by the US.

It was reported May 10 that Pakistan had decided to increase its defence budget for 2010-11 by Rs.100 billion to Rs.443 billion due to the additional expenditure caused by the war against terrorism.

The effective increase, however, will be only Rs.65 billion as the government had sanctioned an additional Rs.35 billion over the Rs.343 billion that had been allocated for fiscal 2009-10 that ends June 30, the SAMAA private TV channel reported.

A media report Friday said the budget for fiscal 2010-11 will levy fresh taxes of Rs.138 billion to mop up Rs.1,650 billion through various levies.

The proposals also include relief of Rs.5 billion on salaries and electricity consumption, Dawn said.

The proposals, prepared by a revenue advisory committee in consultation with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), envisages introduction of value added tax (VAT) from July 1.