Growth acceleration, job creation focus of upcoming budget: Hafeez

Federal Minister for Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said Friday that acceleration of growth rate, employment generation and relief to the common man would be focus of the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2011-12.

Talking to media persons after inaugurating the public lecture that was part of Planning Commission’s `Economic Growth Seminar Series’, the federal minister said that feedback would be taken from all stakeholders for the upcoming budget.

“Economic experts, parliamentary leaders, representatives of business and chambers of commerce and industry and other stakeholders would be consulted before finalizing the budget proposals,” the federal minister said.

He said that the budget would be prepared keeping in view the changing trends in world adding that the government would present a budget that would facilitate creation of an atmosphere for job creation and growth rate acceleration.

The Minister said that the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) in its recent meeting has thoroughly discussed overall economic situation and upcoming budget.

He said that Pakistan was passing through a crucial time adding that although the growth for the current year was set at 4.5 percent but due to the flood devastation it was revised to remain at 2 percent.

However, he expressed the hope that the growth rate for current financial year would remain at 2.5 percent.

Talking about the oil prices, the federal minister said the government intends to put minimum possible burden on public, adding that it has not enough funds to provide subsidies saying that people must understand the fact.

He said that despite these challenges, there have been positive moments on the economic front saying that the inflation has come down to 14 percent while the exports in February 2011 witnessed about 46 percent increase over the same month of last year.

The federal minister said that the remittances would also cross $11 billion mark while the exports are expected to reach $22-24 billion this year.     He said that foreign exchange reserves were also standing at $17.5 billion.

The wheat production would reach at 25 million tons this year, the federal minister said adding it would definitely bring prosperity in the rural economy.

To a question about State Owned Entities (SOEs), the federal minister said that proposals are there to provide autonomy to these entities and run these on innovative way with involving professionalism.

He said that proposal for making a holding company was also discussed during the EAC meeting.

Regarding the question about taxes, he said that all incomes must be taxed without going into details where from these come adding that there was need for legislation to implement it.

Earlier, speaking at the lecture, the federal minister said that Pakistan economy had witnessed the times of considerable growth; however these spurts could not be sustained.

In her public lecture on “Effectiveness of Foreign Aid and Relationship between donor and recipient country,” Ms Nancy Birdsall, President of Centre for Global Development, Washington USA stressed the need for bringing transformation from transaction-oriented aid to resulted oriented aid.

She delivered a detailed lecture on Cash on Delivery (CoD) aid which she said focuses on outcome instead of cash imbursements and inputs.

She said that under this mode of aid, the recipient government makes decision on about what to do with the resources and make progress on the outcomes, adding that third party verification is made on the government’s annual progress report.

She said that COD contract, annual report and the third party verification is to be made public.

Among others, the lecture was attended by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq, member, Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed and other officers of the commission and ministry of finance as well as members of civil society.