The Pakistani government on Tuesday proposed in its fresh budget to allocate 200 billion rupees (about 1.33 billion U.S. dollars) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and relevant projects during the 2019-20 financial year starting July 1, 2019.
The country's Minister of Revenue Hammad Azhar, who presented the budget of 7.022 trillion rupees for the upcoming fiscal year, said that the government has increased CPEC budget by 1 percent than the ongoing year, while the total budget increased by 30 percent compared to the current fiscal year.
Addressing the National Assembly, or the lower house of the parliament, Azhar mentioned focal projects that could achieve industrial development, road infrastructure and modernization of railway network under the CPEC, saying that the government will give priority to such projects.
"CPEC continues to remain in the spotlight and the government has funded the projects under it to accelerate the development and creation of job opportunities in the country," said the minister.
He said that the government has managed to cut the trade deficit by 4 billion U.S. dollars during the current fiscal year by mainly decreasing luxurious and capital imports.
According to the planed budget, Pakistan's defense budget in the next fiscal year will remain static at 1.15 trillion rupees without any increase, said the minister, adding that the government will ensure that there would be no compromise on the security of the country.
On the government's revenue, Azhar said that the government has set a target of 5.82 trillion rupees out of which 5.56 trillion will be collected through different taxes. The government has increased taxes on different items, including edible oil, cement, cigarettes and sugar, but it did not change the current sales tax at the rate of 17 percent.
The minister added that the government is likely to get 6 billion U.S. dollars loan on low-interest rate from the International Monetary Fund and 3 billion U.S. dollars worth of fuel on deferred payments from Saudi Arabia.
According to the minister, on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government will continue its austerity drive by reducing the salaries of ministers by 10 percent and slashing government's running expenses by 23 billion rupees.
Earlier on Monday, Pakistan's Ministry of Finance released the Annual Economic Survey for the fiscal year of 2018-19, revealing that the country's gross domestic product grew by 3.3 percent in the outgoing fiscal year, which is the lowest in the last nine years.
According to the survey, the overall economic growth slowed down amid monetary and fiscal tightening by the government.