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Pakistan hikes defence budget by 12%

Pakistan's finance minister, Dr Hafeez Shaikh, had to cut short his budget speech at the national assembly building on Friday, as opposition members threw bangles and various items at him shouting "shame" and "fraud".

world Updated: Jun 04, 2011 00:53 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

Pakistan's finance minister, Dr Hafeez Shaikh, had to cut short his budget speech at the national assembly building on Friday, as opposition members threw bangles and various items at him shouting "shame" and "fraud".

In a press conference after the speech, opposition leader in parliament, Chaudhry Nisar of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) said that they cannot be party to the conspiracy of silence that the government was indulging in.

Earlier, Dr Shaikh presented the budget for fiscal 2011-12 that projected an outlay of Rs 2.767 trillion ($32 billion), up 14.2% from the 2010/11 fiscal year.

The budget targets a fiscal deficit of 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2011/12 and GDP growth targeted at 4.2%.

More significantly, defence spending will increase to Rs495 billion for 2011-12, compared with Rs442 billion in the previous year, marking an increase of nearly 12% over the outlay for the current fiscal.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/04_05_11-metro-19.jpg

Total revenue (tax revenue and non-tax revenue) is now targeted at Rs 2.732 trillion, the minister said.

Dr Shaikh said in his budget speech that Pakistan will aim to contain inflation at 12% and the thrust was to reduce poverty.

But opposition leaders alleged that the government has "become deaf and dumb" and that it was unwilling to take the army to task on the security failure during the US raid to capture al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden earlier this month.

Nisar also said that the government was protecting the military in the murder of journalist Saleem Shehzad and that the inquiry commission appointed by the prime minister to investigate both the Osama incident and the Shehzad murder were an eye-wash.

Earlier on Friday, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has announced a judicial commission to probe into the murder of Shehzad.