ISLAMABAD: Following is the text of the fiscal budget 2010-11 speech of Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh delivered in the National Assembly on Saturday.
1. Let me start by thanking Allah Almighty for granting me the privilege and the responsibility for presenting the Federal Budget, for the fiscal year 2010-11, the third budget of this Government. I also want to start by recognizing the historic role of this House. This House is democratically elected. It has met high standards of parliamentary discourse and has passed landmark legislation. Above all, this House has restored the 1973 Constitution to its original purity. For this I want to congratulate you Madam Speaker, the Leader of the House, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and all the members. It is only appropriate that the Constitution has been restored by a coalition led by the party of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the architect of the 1973 Constitution who brought the leadership of the entire federation to come together in one of the shining moments of our history. I may also congratulate President Asif Ali Zardari for his leadership in making the passage of the 18th amendment possible. Let us also celebrate that Pakistan has again found collective solutions on key outstanding issues like 7th NFC Award, the granting of provincial rights and the abolition of the concurrent list.
2. It is my intention to introduce in this budget a fresh approach to economic management that will complement these momentous political reforms with responsible economic and fiscal management. The people clearly want a government that is capable of takinghard decisions and leading them to a bright future.
3. These are extraordinary times. Over the last two years the world has gone through the worst recession since the 2nd World War. The global economy has contracted following the sub-prime crises in the USA. We have seen iconic names crash to the ground. AIG and Citi Group lost most of their capitalization; Lehman Brothers and other well known names vanished. This global storm ravaged many countries and continues to do so. No region of the world has been unaffected. Unemployment in the USA touched a 25 years high above 10 per cent. Currently, the downturn is severely affecting some European countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal which were thought to be more stable and are part of the EU. Greece alone has been recently bailed out by the IMF and the EU, with one of the largest rescue packages ever.
4. Pakistan's economy also suffered due to the global down turn, the security situation in the neighborhood, and policy weaknesses. The fragility in our fiscal and balance of payments situation was exposed. The economy recorded an inflation rate of 25 per cent - the highest in the last three decades. Economic growth fell to 1.2 percent - the lowest in three decades. Pressures mounted on
reserves. The exchange rate had to depreciate. more/ma-irf-raz-slm-msr/azm
5. In the face of this unprecedented economic crisis, your government had to take difficult, even unpopular decisions. These decisions included: (i) adjusting the price of those items, whose international prices had risen; (ii) curtailment of expenditures; (iii) and adoption of a tight monetary policy. The government also had to enter into a programme with the IMF to secure balance of payments support and prevent a default.
6. Throughout the adjustment process, the weak segments of society and the poor were not forgotten. To name one example: The Benazir Income Support Programme was introduced. This program alone provides Rs.1,000 a month to support 3.5 million households.
7. 1 am happy to report that we are seeing the beginning of an economic recovery. Inflation has moderated considerably although we still need to bring it down...