Pakistan’s parliament on Thursday unanimously passed the Rs 1,152 billion defence budget for the next fiscal (2019-20). Federal Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar presented the budget on June 11 in which he had declared that the budgetry allocation for the defence sector was kept the same as the last year’s.
But the budget document showed a slight increase of 4.5 per cent by the government. According to the documents, the original allocation for defence for outgoing fiscal (2018-19) was Rs 1,100 billion but it was revised later to Rs 1,137 billion, up by 3.4 percent, by the end of the year.
So, the actual rise from previous allocation was Rs 52,201 million or 4.5 per cent.
Pakistan’s military, in a rare move, early this month decided to voluntarily cut the defence budget for the next fiscal year and assured the nation that there would be no impact to its “response potential” due to the voluntary cut in the budget.
The opposition members were asking for cuts in all other heads of the expenditures, as the cash-strapped nation is to launch an austerity drive to solve the financial woes, but they did not ask for any decrease in the defence budget when it was put for voting.
Pakistan in 2018 was the 20th biggest military spender in the world with an expenditure of USD 11.4 billion, a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in April.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has negotiated a USD 6 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund to overcome the financial woes facing the country.
The government’s budget focused on austerity, growth and tax collection.