To relieve the common man from adverse effects of corona virus on the economy PTI’s government decided revision in all energy sector international and local agreements. Agreements related to IPPs (Independent Power Projects) and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).
PM Imran Khan has taken the decision in a federal cabinet meeting chaired by him on Tuesday. A “‘budget strategy paper’ was presented by Dr Hafeez Sheikh in the meeting. The paper aimed to review the effects of global virus outbreak on the federal fiscal budget. PM discussed with the meetings that the common man and poor segments of society should not be affected by the adverse effects of virus on economy.
“The Corona Crisis demands for revision in international energy agreements”, says Firdous
Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and Ministry of Religious Affairs also represented their recommendations before the cabinet in the meetings. Those recommendations included suggestions about minimizing the number of people offering Juma and other prayers in the mosques. The recommendations also include avoidance of attendance at mosques by the old aged people and children. Religious congregation in mosques, Imam Barghas, Churches and Madaris should also be postponed.
In a post cabinet meeting press conference, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan – Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcast said, “In times of such global crisis, nations need to revise their annual budgets, therefore, we are revising international agreements in the energy sector”.
There was a two point agenda of the cabinet meeting; presentation on the power sector and budget strategy paper.
She briefed the reporters about the discussion in the cabinet meeting regarding the difference of dollar rate at the time when the previous government entered the agreement with the currently prevailing dollar rate; Rs 50 – 60 at that time and Rs. 158 currently. This has benefited the international firms.
She added, “The benefit of the local currency devaluation is going to international firms and, that is why, we are going to revise these agreements to help support the country’s economy”.
“Government is putting all its efforts to control inflation and repayment of debts”, says Hafeez
Dr Awan confirmed the approval by the cabinet of the budget strategy paper. The aims of paper include controlling inflation for stabilize the economy, achieving targets of the government-IMF agreement, growth rate improvement, creation of more and more job opportunities, reduction in loans and budget deficit, revenue increasing, control of expenditures, safeguards for weak society sections, measures for fighting against the natural calamities as well as accelerating the reform process in state institutions.
The paper suggested to priorities some departments for meeting expenditures. Such departments include defense, sensitive and security organization, Public sector development programme, social welfare, government employees’ salaries, Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, food security, health higher education and tourism.
Dr Hafeez Sheikh informed the meeting about repayment of Rs. 5,000 billion foreign debt by the government. He also appraised the reduction in gap between income and expenditure and financial empowerment of ministries by the government. Revenue collection has increased by 17 per cent. Major increase is from non – tax sources other than income taxes. This is evident from the fact that a total of Rs. 894.5 billion has been set for the non tax revenues. The actual collections in the first six months amounted Rs. 719 billion.
An amount of Rs. 110 billion was received from telecom licenses against a full year target of Rs. 54 billion. Profits earned by State Bank in first half of the fiscal year was Rs. 427 billion was higher than the target for the whole year i.e. Rs. 406 billion.
Revenue target for overall direct taxes was Rs. 824 billion for July to December 2019; however actual collection were Rs. 784 billion. This left a shortfall of Rs. 40 billion. Actual collection of sales tax was Rs. 859 billion as compared to target of Rs. 887 billion leaving a gap of Rs. 28 billion.
Similarly, federal adviser reported that the collection of federal excise in first six months has been Rs. 122 billion while the target was Rs. 149 billion. This created a gap of Rs. 27 billion. Customs collection target was Rs. 338 billion and actual collections was Rs. 328 billion which left a gap of Rs. 10 billion.
Dr Awan said in response to the allegations by the oppositions about the government’s non seriousness for the corona virus that the opposition should avoid point scoring and be serious about the issue.