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ISLAMABAD: Subsequent to the unexpected transformation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Dharna into Jalsa in the early hours Thursday, the federal capital is abuzz with speculation that a caretaker government is imminent and will be tasked to pass an interim budget though it is unclear whether the caretakers would take the politically challenging economic decisions or let the next elected government decide.

An anecdotal survey carried out by Business Recorder revealed a consensus amongst different political parties that an interim budget, through an across-the-board political consensus, can empower the caretakers to implement all prior decisions required to revive the International Monetary Fund $ 6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme.

Article 86 of the Constitution of Pakistan authorizes expenditure for four months when Assembly stands dissolved: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions relating to financial matters, at any time when the National Assembly stands dissolved, the Federal Government may authorize expenditure from the Federal Consolidated Fund in respect of the estimated expenditure for a period not exceeding four months in any financial year, pending completion of the procedure prescribed in Article 82 for the voting of grants and the authentication of the schedule of authorized expenditure in accordance with the provisions of Article 83 in relation to the expenditure”.

Former adviser to finance ministry Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan told Business Recorder that General Pervez Musharraf as chief executive approved the budget in 2001 in the absence of parliament.

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An official told Business Recorder that the caretaker government would be required to issue an Ordinance after the approval of the budget from the caretaker cabinet for its implementation. He said that the Ordinance is, of course, extendable and it would be up to the incoming assembly either to make changes or present a new budget.

He maintained that the caretaker government would be able fully empowered to reverse subsides on petroleum products and electricity tariff because these were already agreed by the previous government though he did not respond when it was pointed out that the Khan administration had announced the subsidies (in defiance of its agreement with the Fund in the sixth review) which the Shahbaz Sharif led government has not yet withdrawn.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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