LAHORE – The PML-N government in Punjab Saturday presented its fifth and last budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 with a total outlay of Rs782 billion, showing an increase of Rs128 billion from current fiscal year’s budgetary estimates.
To resolve the issue of power shortage at provincial level, the government has allocated Rs10 billion for electricity generation, but relief to the general public has also been given high priority by putting aside Rs34 billion for subsidies, especially to keep edibles’ rates in control – something which was notably missing in the federal budget.
With the elections coming in the next year, the PML-N-led Punjab government has also taken several other politically favourable measures – including creation of 80,000 new vacancies in provincial departments, minimum wages of Rs9,000 for workers, 20 percent raise in pension and salary of public servants, in line with the policy of the federal government, and distribution of another 125,000 laptops among students. It has also declared more strict implementation of austerity measures and announced further 5 percent cut in perks and salaries of Cabinet members, amounting to 30 percent in total.
According to the budget, tabled before the provincial assembly on Saturday afternoon by Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, the general revenue receipts for the fiscal year 2012-13 have been estimated at Rs780 billion, including Rs650.5 billion from the federal divisible pool under the NFC Award and Rs131.4 billion from provincial tax revenue and non-tax revenue. The revenue target has been fixed 17 percent more than the revised tax revenue of the current fiscal year.
The budget earmarked Rs250 billion, 32 percent of the total outlay, for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) as against 34 percent of the current fiscal year. However, in monetary terms the ADP has registered a raise of 13.6 percent against the concluding year’s ADP of Rs220 billion. The current expenditures are estimated at Rs532 billion versus the ongoing year’s Rs434.55 billion, registering a jump of 13.9 percent.
The finance minister said allocation for pro-poor subsidies has been increased from Rs30 billion to Rs34 billion – Rs27.5 billion subsidy would be given on flour to keep its price in the range of common man, Rs4 billion for Ramazan package and Rs2 billion for public transport. The govt will ploy around 1,200 new busses under Punjab Urban Transport System all over the province.
In his speech, the finance minister termed the budget reforms and development-oriented, balanced and public-friendly. The government has decided to make a comprehensive and effective policy for youth employment. In this regard the government has earmarked billions of rupees for self-employment of the youth, the minister stated.
Under the enhanced austerity, the office expenditure of ministers and the Chief Minister’s Secretariat has been reduced by 30 percent. Furthermore, all the ministers and government servants would use official vehicles in accordance with their entitlement only. Around Rs13 billion has been allocated for women development and Rs0.35 billion for minorities while Rs4 billion have been earmarked for Ramadan bazaars.
The amount earmarked for development projects will be Rs250 billion. The amount fixed for social sector is Rs86.46 billion while education and health sectors will get Rs31.3 billion and Rs35.65 billion respectively. Other allocations include around Rs63 billion for infrastructure development, Rs8.6 billion for production, Rs5.6 billion for agriculture, Rs11 billion for service sector, Rs81.86 billion for public order and safety, Rs23.38 billion for general administration and Rs5 billion for environment, culture and human rights.
Easy loan schemes for women and small farmers have also been proposed and 15 percent quota has been fixed for vacancies for women in govt departments. For next fiscal year, the government plans to spend Rs80 billion on uplift projects of South Punjab, which is 32 percent of the total ADP. The government intends to start an irrigation programme and Rs28 billion have been allocated for this purpose.
The government proposed allocation of Rs14 billion for different projects for the welfare of women in several departments. The minister informed the assembly that construction of new women universities in Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan and Bahawalpur will be started next year.
The government has decided to beef up its struggle against energy crunch and for this purpose a separate Energy Department already has been set up during last year. It plans to provide 50,000 homes with solar panels worth Rs1 billion during next fiscal year.
Addressing the assembly, the minister said that Punjab government has also earmarked record allocation for social sector development project, law and order and welfare-oriented projects to provide relief to the poor people. He said during the next fiscal year, an amount of Rs6 billion was proposed for Punjab Education Endowment Fund while Rs6 billion had so far been spent on the project.
Earlier, the cabinet also okayed continuation of schemes like Ashiana, yellow cab and laptop during the financial year 2012-13, and in this regard, Rs2 billion has been allocated for Danish Schools and Rs2 billion for 4 new Ashyana Housing schemes in different districts.