Addressing Parliament for annual budget session, finance minister also announces 11 percent increase in total expenditure
Islamabad on Friday announced a 40 percent increase in Pakistan’s development budget over the next financial year as the government continues to invest in infrastructure projects.
Speaking to Parliament, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the Public Sector Development Program would have its funding increased from Rs. 715 billion to Rs. 1,001 billion for 2017-18. The government also announced an 11 percent hike in total expenditure over the next year, as positive financial indicators and an improving security situation attract more investors to the country.
“The estimate for the total expenditure in the year 2017-18 is Rs. 4,753 billion, which is 11.7 percent more than the previous year’s expenditures of Rs. 4,256 billion,” Dar said.
The defense budget has been increased from Rs. 841 billion to Rs. 920 billion.
On Thursday, the government said its economy expanded almost 5.3 percent, its largest increase in a decade. The rise follows a construction boom linked to a $50-billion Chinese investment plan to upgrade transport and power infrastructure.
Confidence in Pakistan is growing, with the International Monetary Fund saying in October that the country had emerged from crisis and stabilized its economy after completing a bailout program. Pakistan’s credit rating has also improved, though foreign investment remains poor compared to its South Asian neighbors.
Economists believe the country will need to register sustained growth of six to eight percent over several years to make a significant dent in poverty and provide enough jobs for its youth.