Budget presented amid rowdy scenes

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh presented the budget for fiscal year 2012-13.  The government has set an inflation target of 9.5 per cent, fiscal deficit of 4.7 per cent, national development outlay of Rs 873 billion with a federal Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) of Rs 360 billion, and a revenue target of Rs 2504 billion. The proposals, that included levying of no new tax, were given a go-ahead by the Cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. Duty on raw material for 88 medicines has been reduced from 10 to 5 per cent; sales tax on imports have been standardized at 16 per cent from 22 per cent to 19.5 per cent, while the minimum tax slab has been increased to Rs 400,000. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a democratic government presents its fifth national budget during its tenure. The finance ministry on Thursday released the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-2012 – a pre-budget document highlighting the overall performance of the economy in the outgoing fiscal year. According to the survey, Pakistan had achieved an estimated GDP growth of 3.7 per cent in the outgoing fiscal year, falling short of its targeted growth of 4.2 per cent. Earlier, the federal cabinet approved budget proposals with a total outlay of Rs 2960 billion. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani chaired the cabinet meeting which was briefed by Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh on the proposals.