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Facing the budget blues

17 39 0
14.09.2017

The announcement of budgetary figures for financial year 2016-17 has once again exposed the economic claims of the ruling PML-N government. As predicted by this scribe on these pages on May 25 (‘Budget 2017-18: pie in the sky)’, all the false pretensions of an economic turnaround have been worn threadbare by the figures that speak for themselves, offering a glimpse into what lies in store for the nation.

The government estimated on May 26, when the budget for the ongoing fiscal (FY18) was presented in the National Assembly, that the country’s total expenditure in FY17 (ending on June 30 or just 35 days later) would be Rs4,841 billion, or Rs4 billion less than the original estimate of Rs4,845 billion. Based on this revised estimate, the expenditure for FY18 was estimated at Rs5,104 billion in what apparently seemed to be a stroke of rare genius.

Unfortunately, however, the economic wizards chose to ignore that the country’s expenditure in the first nine months of FY17 (June 2016-March 2017) stood at Rs4,384 billion. In other words, they estimated that the country’s expenditure in the last quarter of the fiscal year – when it traditionally picks up – would be only Rs457 billion or Rs152 billion a month, against an average of Rs487 billion a month in the preceding nine months. One wonders why the expenditure was reduced by Rs4 billion in the revised estimates if this was the case!

The figures now posted on the Ministry of Finance’s website tell us in unambiguous terms that the actual expenditure in FY17 was Rs6,801 billion, or Rs1,960 billion more than what the best brains of the country had estimated just 35 days back. These figures unequivocally tell us two things: (a) in FY18, the government estimates to spend Rs1,697........

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