ISLAMABAD/KARACHI    -   Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Sunday chaired a meeting to review Budget proposals.

On the occasion, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi gave a presentation about the budget proposals for the 2019-2020 and proposed various steps to expand the tax base and increase revenues, said a press statement issued by the Financce Ministry here. The Adviser directed FBR to make tax collection process further easier and initiate measures to broadening the tax base.

The meeting was also attended by the Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue, Muhammad Hammad Azhar and other senior officials of Finance Ministry and FBR.

Meanwhile, people from different walks of life have hailed the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s economic team for spelling out measures being adopted by the government to reduce implications of tough economic conditions on the masses in general.

In their comments with regard to the press conference by Advisor to the PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and his colleagues, they particularly hailed the announcement not to increase power and gas rates for a major component of domestic consumers. Dr. Tahir Aleem a senior educationist set the strategy to encourage masses not to be extravagant in use of resources at their disposal and comply with set limits was appreciable.

Prof. Farhat Sohail opined that this would inculcate sense of responsibility among people in general towards resources at their disposal.

Chairman, Businessmen Panel (BMP), FPCCI, Mian Anjum Nisar appreciating federal government’s commitment to ensure needed relief to the low income groups in the forthcoming national budget was hopeful that the PTI government in its first budget will also take due stock about the needs of industry as well as common man. Emphasizing that business community was the backbone of the economy, he said early resolution of issues hampering its performance must be a top priority of government in the coming budget, to be announced in June.

Being a major stakeholder and pillar of economic structure, business community deserves respect, he said regretting that current FPCCI leadership appeared to be indifferent towards importance of negotiation needed to protect interest of chamber’s members.

Meanwhile, the federal government released 86% or Rs 578.8 billion out of total allocation of Rs 675 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 for various ongoing and new social sector uplift projects. Under its development program, the government has released an amount of Rs 22.9 billion for federal ministries, whereas Rs 22.91 billion for corporations and Rs 41.6 billion for special areas, according to a data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform on Monday.

Out of these allocations, the government released Rs 217.4 billion for National Highway Authority (NHA) out of its total allocation of Rs 185.197 billion. Under annual development agenda, the government also released Rs 11.62 billion for National Transmission and Despatch Company and Pakistan Electric Power Company for which an amount of Rs 33.365 billion was allocated under PSDP 2018-19.

Similarly, Rs 10.13 billion released for Communication Division (other than NHA) as the government earmarked Rs 13.977 billion in its  PSDP 2018-19.

Railways Division received Rs 23.22 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 28.06 billion whereas Aviation Division received Rs 1.33 billion out of total allocation of Rs 3.65 billion.

The government also released an amount of Rs 28.98 billion for various development projects of Higher Education Commission as against the total allocation of Rs 30.961 billion for current fiscal year. Under PSDP 2018-19, the government released Rs 26.270 billion for the various projects of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, whereas the Water Resource division received Rs 56.7 billion out of total allocation of Rs 78.09 billion.

The government also released Rs 3.18 billion for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, for which an amount of Rs 12.784 billion allocated in the federal PSDP 2018-19.

While Rs 276 million released for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority as the government allocated an amount of Rs 0.285 billion for the different projects of the regulatory authority.

An amount of Rs 4.04 billion has been released for Finance Division out of its total allocations of Rs 12.346 billion and Rs 775.4 million released for Climate Change Division out of its total allocations of Rs 0.802 billion for the current fiscal year.

Similarly, an amount of Rs 338 million released for Petroleum Division out of its allocations of Rs 463 million, Rs 4.1 billion for Planning, Development and Reform Division out of its allocations of Rs 6.860 billion whereas Rs 15.74 billion have been released for Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission.

Likewise, the government also released Rs 25.56 billion for States and Frontier Region Division, Rs 10.8 billion for Interior Division, Rs 24.2 million for Human Rights Division, and Rs 725.7 million for National Food Security and Research Division.

The government also released Rs 25.3 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) block and other projects out of its allocations of Rs 25.856 billion, and Rs 16.3 billion for Gilgit Baltistan (block and other projects) out of its allocations of Rs17.534 billion.

The Planning Commission of Pakistan follows the specific mechanism for release of funds. During first quarter (July-September) it releases 20 percent of development funds, in second quarter (October-December) 20 percent, third quarter (January-March) 30 per cent and fourth quarter (April-June) 30 percent.