Budget avoids new taxes in election year, envisages 3.5pc growth


Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Friday unboxed a Rs14.46 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, introducing “no new taxes” and envisaging an economic growth of 3.5% as the crisis-riven country looks to persuade the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release more bailout money.

Pakistan has shared the budget numbers with the IMF, and the finance minister believes there are no further objections the lender could raise — as the country is in line with the programme requirements.

Dar — who presented the second budget of the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government, which came into power in April last year, in the National Assembly and Senate — returned to the podium to announce the federal budget after a hiatus of five years.

At the outset of his budget speech — which began after a delay of almost two hours — the finance minister recalled that the country was “headed towards” economic prosperity during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) previous government.

But, he said, a “conspiracy” was hatched against then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was “installed” as the country’s ruling party.

Because of the PTI’s “dismal governance” during its nearly four-year tenure, the finance minister said, the country was now facing one of the “worst economic crises”.

FinMin Dar — who took charge of the finance ministry in September last year — mentioned that despite the economic challenges confronting Pakistan due to PTI’s “misgovernance”, the coalition parties still came into power.

“We took and are still taking tough decisions which have rescued the economy from default,” he said — reiterating a statement that the incumbent rulers have stressed time and again.