A budget without Dar, a PML-N without Nawaz

A budget is the single most important government measure that affects literally every single citizen of a country. Government employees are eager to hear about raises, while retired civil servants await an increase in pensions. All sectors of the economy hope for taxation relief, while some demand subsidy support. The salaried class looks for a cut in income tax rates, and the unemployed hope for new projects that could potentially earn them a break. Not much has changed with what people expect in the upcoming budget. But there are several developments and issues that make the budget 2018-19 a significant one for the government as well as the country. Never has been there so much controversy before the budget speech, to be delivered this time by Dr Miftah Ismail, the adviser to prime minister on finance. The government will look to take the opportunity to appease an estranged public that it alienated even more after its party chief was dismissed from office and the finance minister declared an absconder. Between the 11 months of the budget announcements, the PML-N has not only lost Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, but Ishaq Dar as the finance minister. While the National Assembly is set to miss the numbers man run through his speech, the PML-N’s motivation to sway a vote bank that seemingly appears to be alienated at the time remains unaffected. On the other hand, the opposition has been eager to stop the PML-N from announcing fiscal measures for 2018-19, arguing that its tenure is due to end and the next government should have the right to determine allocations. Nevertheless, the PML-N will become the first political party to announce six budgets during its tenure, marking a significant milestone for Pakistan that has, as of yet, only seen one democratic government complete its term.

Budget 2018-19: What bold steps should you expect to see this year

Govt’s budget announcement is key for several reasons including upcoming elections

Review: Economy isn’t really better off than it was in 2013

The government may have improved indicators but very few targets were met during five-year tenure

Circular debt – a major drag on the energy chain

As govt’s tenure draws to a close, the debt problem aggravates instead of getting better

Surplus electricity – a far too less realistic picture

Despite repeated vows, PML-N may not be able to end outages by the end of its term

Lobbies at work to turn energy mix in their favour

Present govt increasingly focuses on imported LNG and coal in power production

High taxes a hurdle to rapid progress of telecom services

Though the sector has made giant strides, there is still room for improvement

Agriculture sector continues to get incentives

PML-N govt has gradually increased credit ceiling, provided heavy subsidies

Despite getting incentives, textile exporters still struggle

They are seeking more concessions like cut in power tariff, removal of GIDC in the upcoming budget

PSX: the goose that laid the golden eggs

Barring the first budget, the PML-N has sharpened its knife on stock market every year

The changing landscape and face of Pakistan’s auto sector

Govt has taken various measure to promote the industry including announcing the auto policy in 2016

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