ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has directed government economic team to evolve poor friendly budget besides providing relief to government employees through increase in their salaries. Government economic team led by finance minister Hafiz Sheikh gave briefing to the President Asif Ali Zardari on the salient features of the budget for the fiscal year 2011-12 here at Aiwan Sadr.
Sources told President was informed budget had been made people friendly despite financial constraints. However subsidies are being curtailed and government administrative expenses will also be slashed. Non development expenses will be decreased considerably. However increase in security and defence related expenses is must for the sake of national defence and restoration of peace and security in the country, team added. President was also apprised of tax targets set by the government.
President stressed that budget should be poor friendly and it should focus on growth in GDP. Projects be worked out for boosting trade ties with Central Asian states , president said adding subsidy be not withdrawn fully but such a method be devised by virtue of which only the poor segments of society are benefited from subsidy. He urged that Benazir Income Support Program be consolidated and its funding be raised.
President said that he was fully alive to financial hardships of people particularly government employees due to escalating inflation therefore, increase in their salaries be ensured in the upcoming budget.
Government economic team told President tax net would be broadened in the light of talks held with IMF and 700000 new tax payers will be enrolled to recover tax from them. These tax payers have been identified, team stated. Federal cabinet would decide about increasing salaries of government employees. President was also given briefing about the projects worked out by planning commission.
Meanwhile National Assembly’s standing committee on Finance has expressed no-confidence on the briefing given by Finance Ministry on upcoming budget. The in-camera committee meeting was held at parliament house on Wednesday with its chairperson Fauzia Wahab on the chair. The members of committee showed resentment as during briefing, high ups of Finance Ministry was not informed the committee regarding the budget proposal given by the members.
According to sources the committee members demanded budget documents but the officers of Finance Ministry refused to give the documents by saying that it would be delivered in the National Assembly at the time of budget’s speech on which MNA from ANP Bushra Gohar held walkout as a token of protest.
The sources also told Pakistan Times that the committee also asked for the raise in government servant’s salary but a member of PPP Qamar Zaman Kaira told the committee that increasing the pay and allowances of the government servants is the prerogative of Prime Minister.
The Finance Ministry told the standing committee that the target of budget deficit for the fiscal year 2011-12 has been fixed at 4.5 percent. Later while talking to the media , Busha Gohar said if government has to prepare budget according to the dictation of World Bank and IMF and if bureaucracy would go on their wishes then it is useless to get approval of the people’s representatives.
“I gave proposal to cut the defence budget and to allocate the funds for Ministry of Defence equal to other ministries. Furthermore the programme regarding training of sniffers dogs also be carried out from defence budget, which were not included in the budget”.
She said that every effort would be thwarted to minimize the role of parliament in making budget. After the meeting Qamar Zaman Kaira told the journalist s that the meeting was briefed about the lay out of the upcoming budget., which would be presented after the approval of federal cabinet. “Government can not abolish all subsidies instantly. The world bank survey in the flood affected areas would be completed till 30 June and after that the distribution of fund to the affectees would be commenced.