Aligning budget with IMF conditions was crucial: PM Shehbaz

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Shehbaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that aligning the budget for fiscal year 2024-25 with the requirements put forth by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was crucial at this juncture.

Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday wherein lawmakers are discussing the budget proposals, the premier said the nation would soon hear good news once a response comes from the global lender.

“I will not make any premature statements but hope for good news from the IMF,” he said.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led coalition government is striving to meet the prerequisites for an additional — longer and larger — IMF programme, by setting a high tax revenue target taking a shot at lowering the fiscal deficit from 7.4% to 5.9%.

It is believed that streamlining the tax collection processes and broadening the tax base would help achieve these fiscal targets.

Pakistan has set a challenging tax revenue target of Rs13 trillion for the year starting July 1, a near 40% jump from the current year to strengthen the case for a new bailout deal with the lender of the last resort.

During the NA address, PM Shehbaz said that during the PML-N’s tenure, the government had allocated 10% more budget and job quota to South Punjab compared to its share based on population.

He said that 10% more laptops were given to the students of South Punjab, and a similar percentage was allocated to the Chief Minister Punjab Rozgar Scheme compared to the rest of Punjab. Similarly, the stipend for girl students in South Punjab was increased from Rs200 to Rs1,000.

Regarding infrastructure projects, the prime minister said the previous Punjab government, led by him, had constructed roads that were supposed to be completed by the federal government.

Concerning austerity measures, Shehbaz said he has already abolished the Pakistan Public Works Department. “All the members know how much corruption is there,” he added.

He added that a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb regarding the downsizing and rightsizing of various departments. The tangible findings of the committee would be presented before the house.

PM Shehbaz told the assembly that the government would put forth the information about its expenses before the parliamentarians within the next 1.5 months.