Budget calendar to be followed
ISLAMABAD: The government is confident of completing the financial and political transition to the next elected government on schedule — between May 15 and June 30 — following initial feedback from Punjab suggesting holding of elections for national and provincial assemblies on the same day.
A senior cabinet member told Dawn that the finance ministry had been asked to go ahead with its pre-determined calendar so that the federal budget could be announced in the first week of June, as the political transition was expected to be completed before May 31.
He said that even though formal contacts with the Pakistan Muslim League-N for the general election were yet to be made, informal feedback from the Punjab government suggested that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was in no mood to recommend dissolution of the provincial assembly before the National Assembly.
The chief minister indicated that the constitutional tenure of the National Assembly would end on March 16, after which there should be no problem in dissolution of all provincial assemblies even though the Punjab Assembly would have a few more days to complete its term.
As a matter of principle, the provincial assemblies could be dissolved soon after the National Assembly, he is reported to have informed the federal government through informal channels.
“This has happened in the past. The precedent is there,” the federal minister said, adding that despite different constitutional terms, the national and provincial assemblies were dissolved and elections held on the same date in the past.
This is in line with the political consideration of the federal government to complete its constitutional term on March 16 and hold the general election for the assemblies on the same date — by May 16.
The finance ministry expects to complete the budget exercise in the last week of May so that it could immediately adjust with major economic priorities of the new government.