ISLAMABAD   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday chaired a meeting for preparing the upcoming fiscal budget 2019-20.

The meeting considered proposals for the budget and gave final touches to it, the PM Office media wing in a press release said.

The meeting was attended by Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Shabbar Rizvi and other officials.

Before its presentation in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the Federal Cabinet would discuss and approve the budget proposals.

According to official sources, the budgetary proposals have been prepared in the light of directions given by the prime minister during last cabinet meeting. The sources further informed that special focus will be laid on relief measures for poor segments through various programmes.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday, PM’s Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan termed the forthcoming budget as “people-friendly” and maintained that it would not affect the common men.

She said the general masses are the first priority of the PTI government in the federal budget. She added that the budget will be the first financial document of the PTI government prepared to ensure sustainable economy. She said the budget would be austerity-oriented and public-friendly in which efforts would be made to put minimum burden on the common man.

She said it would be incumbent government’s first budget that had been prepared by engaging an economic team and keeping in view national requirements, adding the country needed a sustainable economy that would take care of everybody.

Firdous rejected media reports about the upcoming budget, terming them misleading and contrary to facts.

The Prime Minister, Dr Firdous said, time and again assessed and evaluated the budget documents and gave top most priority to ensuring well-being of weaker sections of society.

In this regard, she said, the PM was likely to share the government priorities with nation and media soon.

The SAPM said this budget would be PTI government’s long-term roadmap and way forward to achieve next five-year targets, which would also be reflective of its manifesto.

Firdous said the country was passing through difficult economic situation and facing a number of challenges on the financial front, adding all government departments, ministries and divisions should curtail their unnecessary expenditures.

Accordingly, she said, the country’s Armed Forces had set a trend by deciding that its officers would not get annual increase in salaries and other perks rather the amount would be spent for development of recently merged tribal areas and backward areas of Balochistan.

However, Firdous said, the budgetary benefits would be transferred to up to 16-grade staff and personnel. She said the government and Prime Minister were not oblivious of defence needs of the Armed Forces.

The SAPM said the Prime Minister had recently passed necessary directives to the KP Governor and Chief Minister that amount saved from the Armed Forces’ ‘voluntary budget freeze’ should be spent on uplift of the merged tribal areas.

She said the amount would also be spent to provide quality education, better health facilities, improved infrastructure and overall capacity building of institutions in backward areas of Balochistan.

Firdous said the Prime Minister also directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to make the peace-loving and patriotic tribesmen part of national development as they rendered sacrifices for restoration of peace and stood with the Armed Forces in troubled areas.

She warned that those who were hatching conspiracies and disrupting peace would not be spared and brought to book. She paid tribute to the Armed Forces for defending every inch of the motherland and sacrificing their lives while purging the country of terrorists, calling them ‘national heroes’. Unmatched sacrifices rendered by the security forces would not go waste, she added.