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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has assured the Federal Cabinet that Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) will start releasing quarterly figures related to economy.

He gave this assurance at a recent meeting of the Cabinet, when Economic Policy Statements of 2020-21 came under discussion.

The Cabinet was informed that 73 percent of net domestic financing was through long-term securities. No new borrowing was availed from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and repayment of Rs0.6 trillion was made. Eurobonds of $2.5 billion have been floated after a gap of three years. Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) deferment of $2.3 billion ($3.7 billion from May 20 to Dec 21) was availed.

The Finance Division noted that section 4, read with sections 6 and 7 of the Fiscal Responsibility & Debt Limitation Act, 2005 (FRDLA 2005) stipulated that the Federal Government should cause to be laid before the National Assembly the statements of fiscal and debt policies by the end of January each year.

The section 6 of the FRDLA 2005 states that the fiscal policy statement shall, inter alia, analyze key macro-economic indicators, namely total expenditures, total net revenue receipts, total fiscal deficit, total federal fiscal deficit excluding Foreign grants, total public debt and debt per capita. Moreover, the Federal Government should explain how fiscal indicators accord with the principles of sounds fiscal and debt management. It also contains key fiscal measures and rationale for any major deviation, strategic priorities, policy decisions and evaluation of policies. Accordingly, Finance Division has prepared the Fiscal Policy Statement for FY 2020-21 on the basis of actual data.

The section 7 of the FRDLA 2005 specified that the purpose of the Debt Policy Statement was to allow assessment of Federal Government’s Debt Policy against principles of sound fiscal and debt management and debt reduction path.

The Debt Policy Statement must, inter alia, contain assessment with regard to targets of total public debt to estimated GDP, evaluation of external and domestic borrowing strategies, analysis of foreign currency exposure, authentic information on public and external debt and guarantees, and information of all loans and analysis of trends in public debt and external debt. Accordingly, Finance Division had prepared the Debt Policy Statement for FY 2020-21 on the basis of the actual data.

During discussion, the importance of seeking approval of the Parliament prior to raising of debt was highlighted. Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin agreed and pointed out that even expenditure over and above the approved budget should be with the consent of Parliament. He urged PBS to issue quarterly economic figures, which could be presented for parliamentary oversight. Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives assured that PBS was working on releasing quarterly figures related to economy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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