Pak budget focuses on CPEC, employment, poverty reduction

Pakistan’s budget for the next fiscal year (July 2021-June 2022) focuses on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and sustainable development goals (SDGs) for economic development, creation of employment opportunities and poverty alleviation.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, who presented the budget in the National Assembly (NA) on Friday, said that the government will focus on the CPEC projects, including the Gwadar port and special economic zones (SEZs) to create jobs and push the growth wheel, reports Xinhua news agency.

Further tax relaxations will be given to investors interested in the SEZs under the CPEC, the Minister added.

Tarin said that the government has proposed 9.3 billion PKR ($59 million) for the development of the CPEC railway project Main Line-1 to improve the North-South communication.

He proposed a total budget of 8,487 billion PKR for the financial year starting July 1, 2021 with a fiscal deficit of around 6.3 per cent of GDP, including 2,135 billion PKR for the public sector development program, increasing the funds by 37 per cent against the current year’s development allocations.

The Minister added that the country would manage to get 1,246 billion PKR from foreign lenders and 2,417 billion PKR from locals while the government will also spend 3,060 billion PKR for interest payments.

According to the proposed budget, Pakistan’s defence service budget in the next fiscal year will be 1,370 billion PKR, 16 per cent of the total budget, a drop from the 18 per cent allocation in the previous budget.

The government has also allocated a budget of $1.1 billion to purchase Covid-19 vaccines to meet the target of inoculating 100 million people by June 2022.

Tarin said that the government has allocated special funds for hydropower projects, anti-carbon emission projects, tourism, special technology zones, public housing loans, agriculture development and power distribution.

Starting from June 14, the NA will start a debate on the proposed budget for the next 10 working days, after which it is likely to conduct voting to approve the budget on June 28.

Following the approval, the budget will be presented before the Senate or the upper house.