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Govt to announce budget on May 26

17 April, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to announce the budget for financial year 2017-18 on May 26. Talking to reporters on Sunday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the announcement of the budget had been pulled earlier because Ramazan was expected to begin on May 28, adding that preparations were being made accordingly.

Successive governments had been making commitments to announce the budget in May to provide reasonable time for parliamentary debate, but failed to do so. It will be the first time that the budget comes in the public domain before June.

In reply to a question about the rising circular debt and loadshedding at the start of summer, the finance minister said circular debt figures were being exaggerated by some quarters.

He said that under a mechanism finalised by various government stakeholders in consultations with international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, an amount of Rs320 billion was a normal phenomenon in the supply chain. “That is why we paid Rs50bn a few days ago when payables touched Rs370bn.”

Mr Dar said it was unfair to compare the Rs480bn circular debt he had cleared in 2013 soon after becoming the finance minister with normal payables and receivables at present, adding that the stakeholders — power plants and fuel suppliers — had their own credit limits and payment schedules ranging between 60 and 120 days. “These are not all overdue payables” some people are referring to these days, he added.

Mr Dar said it was a tough decision for him to clear the entire amount in one go and bring down the debt to zero in 2013 with the support of all, otherwise the circular debt would have been Rs720bn or above by now.

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