ISLAMABAD, 3rd June, 2016 (WAM) – Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Friday, while presenting the federal budget for 2016 17 with an outlay of over Rs 4.8 trillion, announced specific measures to improve economic growth and overcome challenges particularly energy crisis by maintaining fiscal discipline and reducing non development expenditures.

He also announced relief to the masses, particularly the farmers, besides promoting investment for jobs creation and people friendly policies for the socio economic prosperity of the country.

The main focus in his budget speech was on the development of energy, infrastructure and human resource sectors, besides prioritising the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Highlighting key economic indicators, based on 9 or 10 months data, he said the economic growth remained at 4.71 % which was the highest in the previous eight years.

The performance could have been better had cotton crop not witnessed a loss of 28% due to which national economic growth was reduced by 0.5%, he added according to APP.

The minister said per capita income, which stood at $1334 in FY 2012 13, was projected to increase to $ 1561 in FY 2015 16, showing a growth of 17% in dollar terms while it increased by 24% in terms of rupee.

He pointed out that the average inflation was recorded at 2.82% from July 2015 May 2016, the lowest in a decade.

Ishaq Dar said for the current FY 2015 16, the target of Rs 3,104 billion was fixed and considering the collections till date, it would be achieved.

Likewise, tax revenues would be increased by 60%, an historic and record increase, he added.

The minister said the fiscal deficit this year was being brought down to 4.3% of DGP.

He said, imports were recorded at $ 32.7 billion during Jul Apr FY 2015 16 while remittances have risen to $ 16 billion for the year 2015 16, adding, for the current year target is $ 19 billion.

Ishaq Dar said exchange rate had shown remarkable stability in the last three years which was currently at 104.70/$.

About foreign exchange reserves, he said, the level of $ 21 billion had been achieved, which was a historic record.

Ishaq Dar said the government kept average current deficit to a very low level of 1% of GDP.

He said, Stock Exchange Index stood at 19,916 on 11th May 2013, has now surged to above 36,000, adding, in the same period, market capitalization has increased from Rs 5.2 trillion to Rs 7.391 trillion and from $ 51.3 billion to $ 70.5 billion.

He said increase in GDP growth, investment to GDP ratio, decrease inflation, cut in fiscal deficit, increase in tax to GDP ratio besides enhancing foreign exchange reserves to $ 30 billion, are the main features of the framework.

Regarding development plan, he said the government would focus on water, power, highways, railways and human development sectors which contribute most to economic development.

The minister said a special development programme has been devised for Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) and Security Enhancement.

To cater for the needs of hosting, rehabilitation and the return of TDPs and security enhancement, a special development programme of Rs 100 billion has been provided in the budget.

About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said, $46 billion investment will result in improvement of economies of the four provinces and special areas of the country.

Shedding light on estimates of revenues and expenditures of the next budget, he said, gross revenues receipts for 2016-17 are estimated at Rs 4,915 billion, compared to the revised figures of Rs 4,332 billion for 2015-16.

The share of provincial governments, out of these taxes, will be Rs 2,136 billion. For the year 2016-17, net resources left with the federal government will be Rs 2,781 billion compared to the revised estimates of Rs 2,481 billion for 2015-16 showing an increase of 12.1%.

Total expenditure for 2016-17, is budgeted at Rs 4,395 billion compared to the revised estimates of Rs 4,095 billion for 2015-16, showing an increase of 7.3 %.

He said, the current expenditure is estimated at Rs 3,400 billion for 2016-17 against a revised estimate of Rs 3,282 billion for 2015-16 showing an increase of 3.6%.

Ishaq Dar said, the defense budget is being increased from Rs 776 billion for 2015-16 to Rs.860 billion for 2016-17, which is an increase of about 11%.

WAM/tfaham