All eyes are on the National Assembly as the federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 is being presented by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on the floor of the house as opposition lawmakers chant slogans in protest.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are in the house, witnessing budget proceedings. Earlier, Bilawal met Sharif at his chamber in the assembly and they decided both parties would jointly protest the PTI’s budget.
Tarin began his speech by saying it was an honour for him to present the PTI’s third budget.
He said there were a lot of difficulties but this government had laid the ground for the economy to revive and now “it is going towards development and prosperity”.
He recalled that when the PTI came into power, the economy had gone almost bankrupt. “Everyone knows we were under the burden of so many loans,” he said, adding that the current account deficit was at a historic high of $20 billion.
“During this time, exports were contracting and there was over a 100 per cent increase in imports,” Tarin added. “Despite this context, a 5.5pc growth rate was harped on about.”
Tarin said the PTI government had to do all repayments to save Pakistan from default.
“It took time to stabilise the economy due to the pandemic but we achieved our targets. The $20bn current account deficit has been turned into a surplus of $800 million while a 3.6pc primary deficit reduced to 1pc,” Tarin said.
“After many efforts, the government has been successful in putting the economy on the path of development.”
GDP growth target
The finance minister announced that for FY22, the government had set GDP growth target at 4.8pc.
“We hope growth will be even higher than that due to the measures we have taken in this budget.
Like in the past, we will not leave the weak segments of our society at mercy of the trickledown effect.”
He said in the next couple of years, the government wants to increase growth to 6-7 per cent.
Earlier, as Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in the parliament building for the session, he was asked by a reporter whether the budget will be people-friendly. “Everyone will be happy [with the budget],” he replied.
Prior to the budget session, PPP chairperson Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari chaired a meeting of the PPP parliamentary committee to decide the party’s strategy for the session.
Bilawal directed PPP MNAs to give a “tough time” to the government, saying the government had devised an “anti-poor”, “political” and “selected” budget.
According to Radio Pakistan, the federal cabinet met in Islamabad today to discuss and approve budget proposals. Prime Minister Imran presided over the meeting.