The last meeting of the Federal Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Thursday has approved an additional subsidy of Rs 124 billion for agriculture in the current fiscal. Finance Minister Saleem Mandviwalla and Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira told media persons at a news conference after the Cabinet meeting that a subsidy of Rs 16 billion had been approved on agriculture tube wells for farmers.
The Federal Cabinet, on the recommendations of the Finance Ministry, has also revised upward the budgetary allocation of subsidy to Rs 345 billion from Rs 237 billion for the current fiscal year. Gas companies have been allowed by the Federal Cabinet to charge billion of rupees from the consumers on account of gas theft. Replying to a question, Finance Minister contradicted the Budget Strategy 2013-16 prepared by his own Ministry and presented to the Cabinet for approval. The Budget Strategy papers state that “the country”s economic situation remains fragile and needs further policy measures”. However, the Finance Minister claimed that the country”s macroeconomic indicators were relatively much better compared to those when the present government took over in 2008.
Sources said the Federal Cabinet, on the recommendations of Finance Ministry, has also approved an additional expenditure of Rs 102 billion on account of domestic interest for the current fiscal year due to government borrowing to finance the fiscal deficit. Interest expenditure has been revised upward to Rs 1028 billion from budgeted Rs 926 billion for the current fiscal year and defence expenditure to Rs 570 billion from Rs 545 billion. Kaira said the Federal Cabinet also approved the recommendations of committee for policy guidelines with respect to article 21 of OGRA Ordinance 2002 thereby allowing gas companies to recover 50 percent of UFG from consumers. He said that Ministry of Petroleum and OGRA would prepare Terms of Reference in light of third party”s recommendations to take a decision about the future UFG. The Minister further stated that the federal Cabinet also approved establishment of Federal Law University in Federal Capital and the President would be its chancellor. The meeting also approved recommendations of the committee regarding corruption.
He added the Federal Cabinet has also approved the import of arms and claimed that the decision was aimed to regularise the entire process of illegal arms business, end black market and to earn revenue. The Minister said the government has complied with the Chief Election Commission”s (CEC) decision of ban on development expenditure with some serious reservations. He said that the government would take the credit of IP gas pipeline and various other decisions in the upcoming general election.