The finance ministry has proposed an increase federal development spending by 17% to Rs350 billion in the upcoming budget 2012-13, a figure likely to be raised considerably after dealing with objections raised by dozens of ministries.
To take up the objections, meetings of the priorities committee have started and will continue till Friday, according to a source. The priorities committee tries to strike a balance between the wish-list of the ministries and the available fiscal space. The committee is also considering non-development expenditures of the ministries and departments.
The government had earmarked Rs300 billion for the current financial year 2012.
The committee will forward its recommendations to Annual Plan Coordination Committee, headed by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, which then formulates suggestions for National Economic Council, headed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
An official of the Planning Commission said that the government may have to increase the development budget up to Rs400 billion as the next fiscal year, starting from July 1, will be election year. It will need to increase proposed development ceilings, at least for parliamentarian schemes, official added.
Sources said that for special programmes, carried out under instructions of the premier, the finance ministry proposed to decrease allocations by 15% to Rs27 billion. The government had fixed Rs33 billion for special programmes in the current financial year which was consumed in eight months.
For all the federal ministries and divisions, the finance ministry has proposed Rs180 billion, which is Rs4.5 billion or 2.5% less than the allocations for 33 ministries and divisions. The figure will have to be increased to Rs200 billion to adjust inflationary impacts and allocate budgets to ten new divisions created this years, said another official of the PC.
Currently, the development programme’s throw forward difference between requirements and spending so far, has crossed Rs3.1 trillion. According to some estimates, it will take another ten years to complete just the ongoing projects with the current level of funding.
In 2010, the finance ministry introduced a zero-budgeting concept where every department will have to justify an increase in fresh budgets but the practice has yet to be implemented.
The finance ministry has recommended Rs435 million for current expenditures of Federal Public Service Commission, which are only five per cent higher than the outgoing fiscal year, said an official of the Commission after the meeting. He said the commission has sought additional Rs135 million.
The Higher Education Commission has yet to present its case to the Priorities Committee, however, it is also complaining about fewer allocations. An official of the HEC said that the finance ministry has proposed a total Rs49.5 billion for both development and current expenditure against the demand of Rs58 billion for financial year 2013. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the body responsible for measuring inflation, has complained about its allocation being lower than the annual inflation.
We have sought an additional Rs120 million from the ministry, as its allocations are just 8% higher than the outgoing fiscal year, which annual inflation is in double digits, said an official the statistical body.
The official said that PBS has sought Rs5.82 billion for conducting Population Census in the country and the Priorities Committee has reserved our demand on the ground that the amount will be released when the government will announce a fresh date for conducting the census. The census has been overdue for the last four years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.