Buzdar govt presents record Rs2,653 billion Punjab budget

Finance Minister says Rs560b allocated for ADP | Employees, pensioners to get 10pc pay raise

LAHORE - Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht on Monday unveiled Rs2.653 trillion tax-free and relief-laden budget for the fiscal year 2021-22, amid rumpus from the Opposition.

Led by Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz, PML-N legislators resorted to prolong protest that continued till adjournment of session till June 17 in the afternoon.

Maiden session in the New Punjab Assembly building started two hours and 30 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair. Leaders from both sides of the political divide - Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar and Hamza Shehbaz - attended the budget session.

The Opposition legislators resorted to usual tactics of thumping desks, blowing whistles and chanting full throat slogans against PTI leadership and the present regime while ignoring all SOPs of social distancing. Opposition legislators tore apart copies of agenda, displayed placards inscribed with anti government slogans and with writings like ‘anti public budget namanzoor (unacceptable)’.

PML-N’s women legislators threw papers towards CM that perturbed Law Minister Raja Basharat who came from his seat and had some arguments with Chief Whip of PML-N Khalil Tahir Sandhu. PML-N’s Samiullah Khan, Rana Mashhood and Tahir Khalil Sandhu were seen giving directions to the women MPAs regarding the mode of protest.

Mian Mujtaba, Mian Rauf, Mirza Javed and Tariq Masih Gill were blowing the whistle continuously while making the environment ugly.

The Finance Minister continued budget speech undeterred despite the deafening noise throughout the proceedings.

As per the details, total outlay of budget is Rs 2.653 trillion including an Annual Development Programme (ADP) worth Rs 560 billion. Much-anticipated 10pc increase in salaries and pension of provincial employees has been proposed.

An additional 25 percent special allowance has been proposed for employees from BPS-1 to BPS-19. The minimum wage of workers has also been increased from Rs 17,500 to Rs 20,000 in the budget.

The total outlay of the budget has been increased by more than 18pc and the development budget is increased by 66pc compared with the current fiscal year.

An amount of Rs 189 billion is allocated for South Punjab in the development budget separately for the first time in the history of province. The government has proposed allocation of over Rs205 billion for the social sector including health and education, Rs145 billion for infrastructure development, over Rs57 billion for production sectors including agriculture, industry, tourism, wildlife, fisheries, forest, and more than Rs91 billion for special programmes.

“An amount of 370 billion has been earmarked for the health that also includes 96 billion for development programmes,” said Finance Minister. Over 110 million population of Punjab will get the health insurance card by the end of this year for which Rs80 billion have been allocated. As many as 119 Tehsil Headquarter Hospitals will be revamped at an estimated cost of Rs6 billion.

A hefty amount of Rs442 billion has been earmarked for the education that is increased by Rs51 billion from the ongoing year. More than 8,000 primary schools will be upgraded with an estimated cost of Rs6.5 billion. In Punjab, seven new universities have also been proposed that will be established in Sheikhupura, DG Khan, Kasur, Bahawalnagar, Toba Tek Singh and Muzzafargarh.

An amount of Rs15 billion has been earmarked for the development schemes of Higher Education.

An amount of Rs 99 billion has been earmarked for the development schemes of all the districts of the province. The government has also proposed allocation of over Rs28 billion for the mega projects of Lahore including the establishment of a new 1000-bed modern hospital, a surface water treatment plant, underpasses and flyovers.

The government has proposed allocation of Rs3.5 billion for industrialisation and completion of work in the existing industrial estates. Moreover, Rs10 billion has been set aside for soft loans of the Punjab Rozgar Scheme.

In order to control artificial inflation, the government has established the Model Bazaar Authority and allocated Rs1.5 billion for the establishment of model bazaars across the province. The government has earmarked Rs58 billion for road infrastructure. Other than this, Rs39 billion will be spent from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and Rs8 billion allocated under CM Road Rehabilitation Programme. In total, over Rs100 billion will be spent on road infrastructure in the next fiscal year.

For low-income housing project, an amount of Rs3 billion is allocated in the budget under the Peri-Urban Housing Scheme. For water and sanitation projects, the government has allocated Rs9 billion through which it will establish wastewater treatment plants in Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, and other megacities alongside solid waste management and drinking water projects.

In order to ensure food security and increase agricultural productivity, the government has made a whopping increase of over 300pc in the agriculture development projects. The government has allocated more than Rs31 billion for the agriculture transformation programme.

For livestock and dairy development projects, Rs5 billion have been allocated, and for the improvement of watercourses, Rs5 billion have been earmarked. As for environmental protection, an allocation of Rs4 billion has been proposed out of which Rs2.56 billion will go to the Prime Minister’s flagship 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project.

 After the budget speech and laying of Finance Bill, the chair adjourned the session till Thursday afternoon.

Talking to media outside Punjab Assembly, Hamza Shehbaz rejected the budget while terming it jugglery of words. “I challenge this government to make a budget of a family in just 20,000 rupees,” he said.

He also rejected 10pc increase in the salary and pension.

This budget will increase the miseries of poor people manifold, he said.

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