Fiscal deficit narrows at 2.3% in first half 2019/2020: finance ministry

KARACHI: The ministry of finance on Friday said that the fiscal deficit narrowed at 2.3 percent of the GDP during first half (July – December) 2019/2020 as compared with 2.7 percent in the corresponding half of the last fiscal year.

Analysts at Topline Securities said importantly though, the primary balance during the period clocked in at 0.7 percent of GDP (last year was -0.3 percent of GDP), within the target of 0.6 percent set by the IMF.

In the second quarter of 2019/2020, the fiscal deficit came in at 1.6 percent of GDP compared to first quarter of current fiscal year deficit of 0.7 percent of GDP.

All the four provinces recorded a budgetary surplus during the first half and second quarter of the current fiscal year.

During the first half of 2019/2020, total revenues increased by 39 percent YoY, where the improvement was led by 18 percent YoY higher tax revenues (however less than targeted) and 213 percent YoY higher non-tax revenues.

Looking into further breakup of revenues, government collected 17 percent YoY higher Direct taxes, 24 percent YoY higher Sales Tax and 68 percent YoY higher Petroleum Levy during first half of the current fiscal year.

The government hugely benefited from 575 percent YoY higher profits from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in the first half of the current fiscal year (also 31 percent QoQ higher in the second quarter of the current fiscal year), which is around 0.8 percent of GDP.

The fees fetched through the auction of telecom licenses (PTA profits: 607 percent YoY higher in the first half of the current fiscal year) also helped the government achieve the primary balance target.

On the expenditures front, total expenses increased by 26 percent YoY. Current expenditures increased by 25 percent YoY, where Mark-up Payments were up 46 percent YoY and Defense expenses were up 10 percent YoY. Excluding these items, government’s own expenses increased by 17 percent YoY during the first half of the current fiscal year (also up 49 percent QoQ in second quarter of the current fiscal year).

_ The development expenditure remained healthy, where growth of 28 percent YoY was witnessed in 1HFY20 and 122 percent QoQ in 2QFY20.

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