Accepted is the Rs320 billion “discrepancy”

The Ministry of Finance acknowledged on Wednesday that the federal statistical discrepancy—a term used to represent undetectable costs or unidentified revenues—shot alarmingly up to about Rs320 billion during the first half of current fiscal year.

The fiscal operations summary report for the period of July to December 2022 revealed that there was a significant mismatch between the federal government’s overall expenses and its current expenditures, which led to yet another numerical inconsistency.

The audit revealed that there was no record of Rs319.6 billion in federal government expenditures or receipts, which the finance ministry has referred to as a “statistical inconsistency” and a sign of the budget division’s subpar performance.

Due to this, the entire expenditure of the federal government has been calculated at Rs4.247 trillion, which is Rs147 billion less than the current expenditures of Rs4.390 trillion as reported by the finance ministry.

The enormous gaps cast doubt on the veracity of the statistics released by the ministry, putting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a difficult position.

According to the data, interest costs increased dramatically during the first half of this fiscal year, reaching Rs2.57 trillion. This amounts to 65% of the yearly budget for debt service, which represents a worrisome 77% increase in the cost of interest on the stock of debt held by the federal government.

Due to the enormous statistical disparity, the government’s overall spending increased during the current fiscal year to around Rs4.24 trillion. However, the increase in current spending was limited just about Rs4.4 trillion. Gross receipts increased to Rs4.34 trillion, while the federal government transferred Rs1.9 trillion of its tax portion to the provinces.

The finance ministry claims that the Rs319 billion increase in the government and its companies’ cash deposits is what caused the statistical difference. The deposits have increased from Rs2 trillion to Rs2.3 trillion, the statement continued, resulting in a decrease in overall expenses. The IMF has recognised these deposits as one of the requirements for establishing a Treasury Single Account (TSA).

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