ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed his economic team to utilise all possible resources to provide maximum relief to the common man in the upcoming budget for 2023-24 which is likely to be announced on June 9.

Presiding over a meeting on Tuesday, the prime minister reviewed budget preparations and directed the finance ministry to take every possible step to minimise financial burden on the middle and lower income segments of society.

On the occasion, the government’s economic team briefed the prime minister on the budget preparation, revised targets of tax collection for the current fiscal year and proposed targets for the next fiscal year.

The term of the present coalition government will end in October this year and the government has itself admitted that due to tough conditions of International Monetary Fund (IMF), there was an unprecedented increase in prices of all commodities that caused troubles for the masses and brought a bad name to the present government.

Asif Ali Khan named special representative on Afghanistan

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), the meeting was informed that after approval by the federal cabinet, the budget would be presented on June 9.

The official press release said that the meeting was informed that the country’s economy was moving towards stability and the fiscal deficit was continuously declining.

Expressing satisfaction over the performance on the economic front, the prime minister said that due to better economic policies, the country’s current account balance had shown surplus for last two months.

He also expressed satisfaction over the declining trend in the urea fertiliser prices, saying that it became possible only due to timely action taken by the government.

Mr Sharif said that the availability of fertiliser at affordable price would not only ensure prosperity of farmers, but the country would also move towards self-sufficiency in agricultural commodities.

He also directed officials concerned to finalise pension reforms as soon as possible.

Mr Sharif said that a pension fund should be established by adopting innovative methods to ensure minimum financial burden on the national exchequer.

He said that after the pension reforms, welfare of pensioners would also be ensured in the budget.

He also directed to take practical steps to expand the tax net and raise tax revenues.

Later, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government was committed to ensuring that the new budget brought economic prosperity for all sectors of the economy and that resources were equitably distributed among various sectors.

He said this while chairing a meeting on budgetary proposals presented by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), says a press release issued here on Tuesday.

FBR Chairman Asim Ahmad gave a detailed presentation on proposals for the federal budget.

The finance minister reiterated the resolve of the government to provide a business and people-friendly budget.

Special Rep on Afghanistan

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheh­­baz Sharif appointed a retired am­­b­assador Asif Ali Khan as Special Representative on Afghanistan, says a notification issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Khan has served in various diplomatic postings in United Arab Emirates, New Delhi, Teh­ran, New York, Kabul and London.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023

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