Punjab budget has full cash cover, claim ministers

| Marriyum Aurangzab, Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman address post-budget conference

Says the new budget is not an exaggeration of figures but a consolidated document .

LAHORE   -   Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Punjab government presented a tax-free and surplus budget of Rs 5,446 billion, having the largest ADP (Annual Development Programme) for fiscal year 2024-25, mainly focusing on social sector, infrastructure development, production sectors, services sectors, and special initiatives for people’s welfare and poverty alleviation.

This budget is not an exaggeration of figures but a consolidated document that has full cash cover and it is the outcome of the effective and well-though-out policies of the incumbent government. The full cash cover due to surplus revenue receipts, particularly the provincial own revenue receipts, will ensure complete utilisation of the ADP, thus ensuring maximum relief to the common man. Provincial Senior Minister for Planning and Development (P&D) Marriyum Aurangzab and Provincial Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman stated this while addressing the post-budget conference, here on Friday.

The senior minister said that now the elected government was in place and “we have shun politics for the sake of politics and blame game, and we will have to make joint efforts for people’s well-being”. The opposition has the constitutional right of criticism and the government would welcome its objections which deemed better for the people and the country, she added. She said that under the leadership of Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, the Punjab government was putting in order comprehensive measures such as promotion of information technology, skill development among youth, women, transgender community and the minorities. The priority sectors of the government are Education, Health, IT, Agriculture, infrastructure, and law and order. She elaborated that the government has allocated more funds for the above sectors, stating that Health Sector has been allocated a total of Rs 539 billion with ADP of Rs 129 billion; Education sector was allocated Rs 670 billion with Rs 66 billion ADP; Local Governments to get Rs 321 billion with Rs 62 billion ADP; Agriculture budget is Rs 117 billion with Rs 65 ADP; Rs 375 billion would be spent on infrastructure; and Rs 220 billion on Law and Order.

During the next financial year, she said, the government will also give subsidy in various sectors including Agriculture Rs 26.6 billion; Transport Rs 24.3 billion; and Rs 100 billion for the special initiatives. Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba said that Rs 842 billion ADP was 28 per cent higher than the outgoing FY 2023-24 containing Rs 655 billion on this count. Out of the development budget, he elaborated, 33 per cent would be spent on Social Sector, 29 per cent on Infrastructure, 13 per cent on Production Sector, and 5 per cent on Services Sector, while 20 per cent would go to Special Programmes/Initiatives.

The finance minister said that total revenue collection was estimated at Rs 4643.40 billion; Rs 3,683.10 billion will be received from federal divisible pool; provincial receipts (Own Resource Revenue) are estimated at Rs 960.30 billion (54 per cent higher than the current fiscal year) for financial year 2024-25, while Non-Tax Revenues are estimated at Rs 488.40 billion (111 per cent higher than the current FY). Regarding property tax, he explained that Rs 29 billion will be received on this count after the DC rate table has been revised after 10 years, but it would be implemented from January 1, 2025. He said that property tax revenues would reach up to Rs 50 billion, if the DC rate table would have been revised after every five years. He made it clear that no change has been made in the traffic challan/fines ratio, adding that the last caretaker government had increased the ratio of fines which are now enforced.

Senior Minister for P&D said that Punjab government has allocated Rs 9.5 billion for Chief Minister’s Roshan Gharana Programme and Rs 80 billion for Chief Minister’s District SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) during the financial year 2024-24. Under CM Roshan Gharana Programme, relief would be provided to the people in the electricity bills and in the first phase, a complete solar system would be provided to domestic consumers using up to 100 units of electricity per month.

She said that low-cost houses are also being provided to the poor under ‘Apna Ghar, Apni Chhat’, besides launching Himmat Card, Negehban Card and Kisan Card. Developmental projects at district level would be completed under Chief Minister District SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Programme to be monitored by the Punjab Chief Minister, she said and mentioned that Undergraduate Scholarship Programme and Chief Minister’s Skilled Programme will be launched with a cost of Rs 2.5 billion and Rs 2.97 billion, respectively. She said that the first Garment City in Punjab is being built with a cost of Rs 3 billion and it would not only help promote textile industry but also increase foreign exchange reserves and jobs creation. Similarly, she said, ‘Khhelta Punjab’ programme of Rs 7 billion will be initiated in all the provincial constituencies for provision of basic sports facilities to the people, while funds of Rs 6.5 billion will be spent on restoration of current sports facilities.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s dream of Digital Punjab is coming true as the foundation of Pakistan’s first IT city ‘Nawaz Sharif IT City’ has been laid within a short span of three months. Easy access to the internet is the basic component of Digital Punjab Programme, she added. She said that Punjab budget also featured the Chief Minister’s programmes for the wellbeing of children, working women, special persons, and transgender community, as well as welfare programmes for minorities. CM Punjab Schools Meal Programme will be initiated with a cost of Rs 1 billion for the effective mental and physical growth of children; Daycare Centres will be established across Punjab for the children of working women with a cost of Rs 1 billion; CM Skill Development Programme worth Rs 1 billion to facilitate the transgender community; and Minority Development Fund would be established with a cost of Rs 2.5 billion. Similarly, Nawaz Sharif Institute of Cancer Treatment and Research would be built in Lahore with a cost of Rs 56 billion; Rs 8.84 billion will be spent on construction of Nawaz Sharif Institute of Cardiology Sargodha; Rs 450 million has been allocated for launching of air ambulance service for shifting of patients from far-flung areas to the city hospitals; and Rs 1 billion has been set aside for Clinic on Wheels Project under with 200 ambulances are providing healthcare facilities to the people in far-flung areas. In addition, he said, Mobile Field Hospital Programme has been started with an objective to activate and increase Healthcare Coverage in the province.

Senior Provincial Minister said that the Punjab government has allocated Rs 9.5 billion for establishment of Punjab Socio-Economic Registry (PSER) and Rs 18 billion for Punjab Enforcement Regulatory Authority (PERA) in the financial year 2024-25. He explained that the PSER would be responsible for collection of socioeconomic information and determine the resources for the people of Punjab and on the basis of the PSER survey and research, future developmental and social welfare programmes would be worked out so that the genuine people could get their due right. The PERA would control price hike, illegal occupation of state land, hoarding and tight noose around the elements involved in such other illegal activities.

She said that a grant of Rs 3.8 billion has been earmarked for establishment of Smart Safe City project in 19 districts of Punjab, asserting that a total of Rs 10 billion would be spent on Murree Development Programme under which Rs 5 billion would be spent during next FY. Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba said that the PML-N government always focused on expansion of roads network and keeping its track record in this connection, the present government has allocated a hefty grant of Rs 143 billion for roads sector. Out of the roads sector development budget, Rs 58 billion would be spent on the ongoing 528 developmental schemes. The minister said that development of south Punjab is the top priority of the present government as “we believe that development of Punjab hinges on the development of its southern parts”. On the special directions of Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, he mentioned, a huge grant has been allocated for the south Punjab in the development budget 2024-25. Under the Roads Rehabilitation Programme, 684 kilometres long roads would be constructed and rehabilitated in south Punjab, she added.

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