ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Sunday approved the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal 2023-24 as Pakistan tries to secure the crucial International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a final effort to clinch a much-delayed rescue package.
Under the Finance Bill 2023-24, which was approved with a majority vote, the tax collection target has increased from Rs9,200 billion to Rs9,415 billion and pension payment increased from Rs761 billion to Rs801 billion.
Moreover, under National Finance Commission (NFC), instead of Rs5,276 billion, Rs5,390 billion will be received.
Rs215 billion new taxes are also imposed under the Finance Bill’s further amendment and the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) budget has been increased from Rs450 billion to Rs466 billion.
The federal development budget is allocated at Rs950 billion.
A total of nine amendments were introduced in the Finance Bill 2023-24 – eight of the government while one of the opposition – and all were approved.
The clause-wise approval of the bill had begun in the NA earlier today. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also presented an amendment to the Petroleum Development Levy Ordinance which was approved by the House with a majority vote.
In the amendment, the petroleum development levy limit was increased from Rs50 per liter to Rs60 per liter.
Opposition member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali’s amendment, authorising the chairman standing committee to use a 1200cc vehicle, was also accepted. The government did not oppose the opposition member’s amendment.
Earlier, 1300 cc to 1600 cc vehicles were allowed.
Except for Chitrali, the sole member of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in the NA, all the government and opposition members opposed taking the opinion of the Islamic Ideological Council (IIC) on the Finance Bill due to the inclusion of interest.
The JI member has demanded to send the bill to the IIC for an Islamic-scale review.
Speaking on the floor of the House, the finance minister said that the country has a massive burden of pensions, adding that the cost has reached Rs800 billion.
He maintained that pension-related reforms are being attempted and that pension cash accounting will become unsustainable in the future.
Dar also clarified the issue of two pensions, saying that officers of grade 17 or above with two or more pensions will be entitled to one pension only.
He added that the officers with a higher pension will be able to choose one of the pensions of their choice and on the death of a retired government officer, the widow will be able to obtain funds.
The minister further told the House that on the death of both the government officer and the spouse, the children will get a pension for 10 years.