Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo
ISLAMABAD: The newly reconstituted National Economic Council (NEC) is likely to approve on Monday a record Rs1.13 trillion Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for next fiscal year (2013-14), about Rs262 billion or 30 per cent higher than current year’s allocation of Rs873bn.
To be presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a hurriedly called meeting of the country’s highest economic decision-making body is also expected to set an economic growth target of 4.4 per cent against current year’s estimated real GDP growth rate of 3.6 per cent.
The budget strategy paper finalised in March this year had put the next year’s growth rate at 4.5 per cent which has been revised downwards slightly because of lower than expected growth rate during the current year.
A notification for the reconstitution of the NEC was issued on Sunday evening, but provincial leaderships had already been called to Islamabad to attend the meeting for mandatory approval of the next year’s development programme and the macroeconomic framework before their inclusion in the federal budget to be announced on June 12.
The NEC reconstituted by the president on the advice of the prime minister includes three federal ministers from Punjab and one from Sindh. The four federal members nominated by the prime minister include three of his close aides from Punjab (Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif and Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal) and Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi, who belongs to Sindh.
The prime minister did not nominate NEC members from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa contrary to the tradition under which four federal members are nominated to the NEC from the four provinces.
Article 156(1) of the constitution says the NEC shall be constituted by the president and will comprise the prime minister as the chairman of the council, the chief ministers and one member from each province, to be nominated by chief ministers, and four other members as the prime minister may nominate from time to time.
As required under article 156(1) of the constitution, the four chief ministers are members of the NEC. Provincial members of the NEC nominated by the four chief ministers include Punjab’s finance minister (yet to be nominated), Sindh Chief Minister’s Adviser on Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, KP’s Senior Minister for Finance Siraj-ul-Haq and Balochistan MPA Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal.
According to the notification, the KP governor, AJK prime minister, Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and federal secretaries of the finance, economic affairs and planning departments will attend the NEC meeting on special invitation.
Of the total development programme of Rs1.13tr, allocations for the federal PSDP have been proposed at Rs540bn against the current year’s Rs360bn, according to a summary sent to the NEC.
An official said the prime minister could enhance the overall allocation by Rs15-20bn to accommodate some special programmes for Balochistan.
The provincial annual development plans (ADPs) for next year have been estimated at Rs595bn against Rs513bn allocated for the current year, showing an increase of 16 per cent or Rs82bn.
The NEC will also approve rebasing of national accounts from 1999-2000 to 2005-06.
The sources said the Planning Commission and the finance ministry had earlier finalised a federal development programme of about Rs450bn. A block allocation of about Rs115bn has been included in the PSDP to accommodate some unapproved projects — like Metro Bus Services for Islamabad and Karachi — on the desire of the new government.
An official said that under the development plan the emphasis would continue to be on completion of the schemes already at advanced stages of implementation while some of the new government’s projects would also be given priority.
The target for the next year’s inflation rate has been set at 8 per cent. The target for the year’s national savings rate has been set at 13 per cent, up from the current year’s 12 per cent. The national investment rate has been estimated at 13.6 per cent against 12.6 per cent this year.