The two southern provinces unveiled their budgets for 2012-13 by the traditional mode of presentation by their Finance Ministers, Murad Ali Shah of Sindh and Asim Kurd Gaillu of Balochistan. That these are the final budgets of before the next general election might well explain why they did not contain any fresh taxation measures. Indeed, Shah presented the only deficit budget in all the provinces, in the Rs 578 billion budget, with a record Rs 231 billion for development, and a deficit of Rs 7.16 billion However, Gaillu balanced the Balochistan budget, which included a development component of Rs 35.8 billlion in a total outlay of Rs 179.93 billion. The Sindh budget contained an increase in development spending of almost 43 percent over that of the current year, a sure sign that the PPP and the MQM are worried about their strongholds. Both provinces also followed the federal example of giving their employees and pensioners a 20 percent increase.
The budgets reflected the end of the series that had started 10 days before, with the presentation of the federal budget. Now the provinces have also presented their budgets. There was a heightened expectation because all the Finance Ministers faced the problem of having to face an election in the coming year, but it seems that there has been little or no fiscal space beyond opting for a pay and pension raise for government servants, and not subjecting the already harassed citizen to further taxation. The expectations of election-year budgets have not been realized.