Dar terms fiscal policies, budget disappointing
05 June, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Ishaq Dar on Monday termed the federal budget 2012-13 disappointing and stressed the government to take measures to put economy on track.
While opening debate, the PML-N legislator said that the party had decided to take part in the budget debate as it was related to the country's future.
He said excessive bank borrowing and supplementary grants during the ongoing fiscal year had grossly imbalanced the country's macro-economic indicators.
The government had borrowed Rs 939 billion from banks against the targeted amount of Rs 303 billion, while supplementary grants had also touched Rs 425 billion. The supplementary grant — which was previously 20 % — had decreased to 18.2 % of total current expenditure but the amount had increased.
"The heavy amount of supplementary grants also reflects financial indiscipline on the part of the government," he told the Senate.
Totally disagreeing with figures of the budget, Dar said the low growth rate, the reduction in the tax-to-GDP ratio of 9 %, lowest ever foreign investment in 60 years, ever-increasing inflation, macro-economic imbalance, increasing poverty and a stumbling agriculture sector were just some of the worrying features of the poor economy and the budget.
The opposition leader claimed that energy growth was very much related to the overall growth rate and said that for this purpose the government would have to take short-term measures such as clearing the circular debt and early completion of power projects like the Nandipur Project.
"By taking such measures, over 4,000 megawatts of electricity can be produced," he said.
He added that Rs 50 billion to Rs 60 billion allocated for the energy sector was a meager figure at best. He also regretted that due to the energy crisis hundreds of industrial units in Faisalabad had been shut down and the people were in great trouble.
Dar said the government had also stopped providing poverty figures in the economic survey, but according to conservative estimates around 74 % of the population was earning $2 or less per day.
Dar also criticised the government for not withdrawing the prime minister's discretionary powers, particularly in the utilisation of developmental funds, which still stand Rs 29 billion. He suggested that giving power to a single person to spend such a huge amount through discretionary powers was totally unjustifiable. He suggested that it should be withdrawn to bring transparency in the system.
He lamented that the prices of essentials such as milk and pulses had increased by 300 % to 500 %.
The opposition leader asked the government to recover all illegally written-off loans, saying that there were people who were fake defaulters. Leader of the House Jehangir Badr praised the speech and suggested that Dar should forward his recommendations to the Senate's Finance Committee.