It’s perhaps the most challenging times to present the Federal Budget for next year (FY24) amid stagflation and lots of uncertainties related to upcoming elections and how Pakistan will bridge its external account funding gap.
This uncertainty on financing US dollar funding gap is creating nervousness in currency, bond and stock markets as Pakistan faces very high probability of default.
Moreover, on the political front with Imran Khan’s PTI being sidelined, it is possible that a weak coalition government may come to power in elections. It will be interesting to see how aggressive and competent the new setup will be to deal with this economic crisis.
To create good optics, it is possible that the government may set an unrealistic revenue target to create space for spending in the budget.
The present Government is scheduled to announce Federal Budget FY24 on June 09, 2023. It seems highly unlikely that the government headed by Shehbaz Sharif will be able to complete the current IMF program on time.
The general perception is that regardless of the status of the current IMF program, Pakistan will have to enter another and a bigger IMF program.
The incumbent government is under immense pressure due to an Economic slowdown and high inflation and could take steps to appease the public in the upcoming budget through some sort of expansionary policies including direct cash subsidies for the underprivileged and increase in minimum wages. Any excessive spending would be ill-advised without substantial tax collection measures.
The Budget outlay for FY24 is estimated up to PKR15 trillion as against PKR9.6 trillion proposed for FY23 assuming record high mark up cost due to high interest rate.
The Government is likely to set tax revenue collection target at above PKR9 trillion for FY24 or 8.6% of GDP, as against a target of PKR7.5 trillion for FY23 and 29% higher than expected tax collection for FY23.
The Revenue targets in the past have also varied on an average by 8% in last 5 years from actual and analysts expect the same to happen in FY24 amid economic slowdown.
The Non-tax revenue target for FY24 is estimated at PKR2.5 trillion or 2.4% of GDP as against PKR1.6 trillion or 2% of GDP estimated for FY23. This seems achievable given higher SBP profit share and significant jump in PDL.
The Federal Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) is estimated at PKR0.9 trillion for FY24. However, analysts fear major cuts in this due to fiscal constraints. Consolidated PSDP (Federal and Provincial) is anticipated at PKR2.6 trillion or 2.5% of GDP for FY24.
Some of the taxation measures under consideration include: 1) Tax on undistributed reserves, 2) Continuation of Supertax, 3) Shift from Final Tax Regime to Minimum Tax Regime, 4) Asset Tax/Wealth Tax, 5) Higher tax on Non filers, 6) Tax on rental income, and 7) Additional Tax on Banks, Tobacco and Beverage sectors.
Budget is anticipated to be Neutral to Positive for Stock Market as analysts don’t expect major steps in budget that can affect the market and key listed sectors.
The budget is likely to be Neutral for sectors Oil & Gas Exploration, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Consumers, Tobacco, Technology & Communication, Textile, Cement, fertilizers and OMCs. On other hand, it is likely to be Neutral to Negative for Banks and Autos while its Neutral to Positive for Steel and IPPs.