Rs 191 billion allocated in federal budget 2019-20 to protect society’s weak segments: Hafeez Shaikh

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that we have doubled allocations for the social safety net in the federal budget 2019-20, and as compared to Rs 100 billion of current fiscal year, we are allocating Rs 191 billion to protect the weak segments of the society.

While addressing a post budget news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday explaining further the details of federal budget 2018-19, Hafeez Shaikh said that despite difficult economic situation, the government has enhanced allocations for protection of vulnerable segments of the society and development projects in the next year’s fiscal budget.

The adviser on finance said that Rs 216 billion have been earmarked in the budget 2019-20 as a subsidy for those electricity consumers using less than 300 units per month.  He said that this subsidy is aimed at protecting the poor electricity consumers from the rise in power prices.

With regards to the development budget, the adviser said that the annual development plan for the next fiscal year envisages allocation of Rs 950 billion as against the Rs 550 billion allocated for the current fiscal year. He said that this amount will be spent on the construction of infrastructure including roads and dams which will help create job opportunities for the youth.

Hafeez Shaikh said that we have also announced separate packages both for Karachi and Balochistan.

The adviser said that the new budget 2019-20 also aims to reach out to the poor districts including those in Balochistan as well as erstwhile FATA. He said that Rs 152 billion have been earmarked for the development of tribal districts.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that we are also giving subsidies to the private sector on the gas and electricity tariff besides they will be given loans as part of efforts to promote economic activity in the Country.

The adviser on finance said that the focus of new budget is to check fiscal and external deficits, adopt austerity measures and cut the expenditures of the government.

Hafeez Shaikh pointed out that the expenditures of civilian government for the next fiscal year have substantially been reduced whilst the armed forces have also voluntarily accepted freeze on their expenditures. He said that this sends a positive message both to the world and the masses that we are united on the matter.

Referring to the Country’s debt, Hafeez Sheikh said that we have also earmarked Rs 2,900 billion in the budget 2019-20 for the payment of interest of loans taken by the previous governments. He said that the present government has inherited debt burden of Rs 31,000 billion.