Punjab unveils Rs2,026b budget amid rumpus

| Development outlay Rs238b | Expenditures estimated at Rs1,264b | Dadhocha Dam construction to cost Rs6b | Rs33b for completion of Orange Train

LAHORE - The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led new Punjab government yesterday presented its first budget with Rs2,026 billion outlay for the remaining eight months of the current fiscal year 2018-19 amid noisy protest and rumpus created by the opposition in the house.

The budget laid emphasis on education, health and social sector development.

It is to be noted that the Punjab caretaker government in June 2018 had approved Rs693 billion budget for the period of four months (July-Oct) under the Article 126 of the Constitution. The Constitution authorises the caretaker cabinet to approve expenditure for up to four months from the provincial consolidated fund which is going to end this month.

With major focus on social sector especially the education and health, provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht presented the Punjab budget with total outlay of Rs2,026.51 billion in the Punjab Assembly.

Protesting against the budget, opposition lawmakers tore up copies of the budget documents. However, the finance minister continued to deliver his budget speech, which lasted for about an hour.

Giving break-up of the budget in the house, the minister said general revenue receipts for FY 2018-19 were estimated at Rs1,652 billion, while the province was expected to get Rs1,276 billion from Federal Divisible Pool. He said total provincial revenue was estimated at Rs376 billion, including Rs276 billion under the head of taxes and Rs100 billion under non-taxes.

Hashim Jawan Bakht said that total estimates for ongoing expenditures were Rs1,264 billion, including Rs313 billion for salaries, Rs207 billion for pension, Rs438 billion for local governments and Rs305 billion for service delivery.

He said the service delivery expenditures would basically be provided for provision of education, health facilities to people, law and order, transfer of powers at grass-roots level, provision of clean drinking water and other necessary services.

The finance minister said that it was proposed to allocate a sum of Rs238 billion for development budget of eight months against ADP of Rs635 billion for last fiscal year 2017-18. He added that poor and ill-conceived policies of the previous regime made it inevitable to reduce development budget for the current fiscal year.

He, however, assured the house that the PTI government would usher in a new era of development in the years to come by ensuring the best financial discipline and planning.

In his speech, the finance minister said that PTI’s first 100 days agenda will lay foundation of a progressive and prosperous Punjab. He said PTI’s reforms agenda is public-friendly.

The minister said that presently more than 9 million children were out of school. “Our first priority is to bring them into schools,” he added. Hashim said Rs373 billion had been allocated for this purpose. He said Punjab government intended to achieve sustainable development goal of 2030 by introducing new tier of pre-primary schooling, allocating Rs500 million for this purpose. The government will also lay a new track of technical and vocational education at high school level with the funds of Rs12 billion under public-private partnership.

He said Rs284 billion had been allocated for health to make it accessible and affordable to general people. He claimed that new PTI government had allocated 14 percent of the total ADP for health against 8pc allocation of last government of the PML-N. He announced to launch ‘Insaf Sihat Card’ system, saying the new health insurance programme will be introduced across the province.

He said Rs20 billion had been allocated for provision of clean water and draining out the sewerage water out of total ADP. He said Rs12 billion will be spent on new schemes. With a view to eliminating regional disparity, the new government had also decided to conduct cabinet meetings at divisional headquarters while officers will visit the less developed districts twice or thrice a month.

The minister announced to earmark Rs93 billion for agriculture against Rs81 billion allocation of last fiscal year. He said Rs15 billion had been allocated for loans of up to Rs250,000 to growers of high value cash crops.

He said Rs19 billion had been earmarked for irrigation. Hashim added that Dadhocha Dam will be constructed this year for the provision of clean drinking water to the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad with Rs6 billion. He announced that Jalalpur Irrigation Canal construction will also be started this year along with restoration of Panjnad Barrage to ensure irrigation of 1.6 million land of Bahawalpur and RY Khan.

For the infrastructure, the govt had allocated Rs149 billion, including Rs68 billion for road sector, Rs35 billion for transport, Rs5 billion for roads in rural areas and Rs33 billion for completion of Orange Train. He also announced to launch a new roads construction programme under public-private partnership.

The govt will also start ‘environment endowment fund’ with the allocation of Rs6 billion to cope with pollution.

The minister announced that an SMEs Support Programme will be introduced in collaboration with Punjab Small Industries Corporation with an expenditure of Rs6 billion, besides allocating Rs4 billion to erect Allama Iqbal Industrial Estate in Faisalabad.

The minister added that the PTI government will start e-governance in its true spirit, as every development project’s detail will be available online to get the public input as well as ensuring transparency.

Moreover, he said that new government will also introduce the new local body system. Under the new system the province will be divided in small administrative units, including village council as well as the neighbourhood council.

With a view to ensure transparency, the departments have been asked to rationalize their expenses, besides ensuring performance audit of previous years. He added that government will receive extra revenue of over Rs16 billion through Resource Mobilization while another Rs80 billion will also be saved through expenditure rationalisation. Hence, the govt will have additional revenue of Rs96 billion which will be spent on development of the province, he added. He stated that government was also going to launch Fiscal Responsibility and Debit Management Law to ensure that the loans should not be spent on non-development expenditures.




Punjab unveils Rs2,026b budget amid rumpus

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