Economic Council sets 6.6 GDP growth rate for next fiscal year
* Approves Rs 202b PSDP
* Water sector gets highest allocation
g NWFP unhappy
By Zamir Haider
ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali on Tuesday recommended a GDP growth rate of 6.6 percent for the next fiscal year and also approved an outlay of Rs 202 billion for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2004-05.
“We have approved an outlay of Rs 202 billion for PSDP 2004-05 that will help increase public investment in the key social and infrastructure sector and create more jobs,” Prime Minister Jamali told journalists after the meeting. Mr Jamali said the government wanted to improve the quality of life and various development programmes would benefit the common man.
On complaints of a lack of spending by government agencies, Mr Jamali said that it was decided last year that NEC would meet twice a year and quarterly reviews would be made to ensure that government agencies were spending those funds. He said it was estimated that at least 85% of allocated funds would be spent this fiscal year. Mr Jamali said he had asked all chief ministers to try to reach to a consensus on the Sixth National Finance Commission award.
Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said that 60 percent of funds were used in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year. He hoped that the number would reach 90 by the end of the fiscal year.
Mr Aziz said the outlay approved for PSDP 2004-05 was 26 percent higher than the current fiscal year’s Rs 160 billion. He said the country got more fiscal space because of a 6.4 percent growth rate in the current fiscal year. “The 6.4 percent growth rate helped us allocate resources for health, education and population,” he said. Mr Aziz said water schemes were given the maximum share in PSDP, which was 60.3 percent higher than funds allocated in the current fiscal year.
North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani said on Tuesday that the NEC meeting was a complete disappointment. The meeting had proved that the federal government was not serious in resolving the NWFP’s problems, he said.