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Budget options being mulled as election approaches

03 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Only the timely general election in the country will enable the government to formally present and get passed the federal budget from the new assembly; otherwise the interim federal budget (for three months) will be the option to meet the constitutional obligation to start new fiscal year 2013-14, official sources said on Saturday.

Whichever the case, the Ministry of Finance has decided to finalise Federal Budget 2013-14 by March 31, official sources said on Saturday.

In case the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies are dissolved by March 15 and general election is held within 60 days of the devolution, there would be no problem in presenting the budget and seeking its approval from the new assembly, they explained.

However, there will be a huge problem in case the general election is delayed beyond July 2013, as the constitutional obligation requires that the budget is presented and approved before June 30, 2013.

According to the senior officials at the Finance Ministry, the ministry has three options to present and get approved the Federal Budget 2013-14.

The first option – conditional to the holding of general election in time and assuming of NA affairs by June 15 – would be to ask the new government to present the budget and get it passed.

The second option – would be to as the interim government to present the budget and get it approved from the new National Assembly when it assumes it's working.

The third option left with economic managers would be to allow the interim government to present an interim budget only for the first quarter of the fiscal year (July-September) and allow the new government to announce it's own budget for the remaining three quarters of 2013-14.

The officials were of the view that constitutional provisions had a solution to the situation the country might face owing to general election in the country. They said that in case the present government gets re-elected, the existing priorities and policies would continue. However, if there is any change in the government, the limited fiscal space available would not allow the government to practically implement it's priorities in the first year of it's tenure.

End.

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