LAHORE: Of the Rs1.681 trillion budget announced by the provincial government on Monday, Rs550 billion has been allocated for the Annual Development Programme.
In the ninth consecutive budget presented by the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz’s government, the size of the ADP budget is 37.5 per cent greater than the previous year’s allocation of Rs400 billion. The increase is an all-time high despite the fact that the government has been unable to fully utilise the current year’s ADP. It hopes that utilisation of funds reserved in current year’s development budget will be just over Rs300 billion.
The government says it is committed to following its growth strategy. By allocating 53 per cent of the development budget, it says it expects to complete about 1,700 schemes by the end of this fiscal year.
Following in the footprints of the federal government, the Punjab government has earmarked Rs100 billion for the Khadim-i-Punjab Kissan Package over the next two years. This will include subsides on farm inputs, including fertilisers and pesticides, and withdrawal of GST on tube-well electricity connections.
Punjab prioritises social sector in Rs1.68tr budget
The largest chunk of the ADP – Rs168.9 billion or 31 per cent – has been allocated for social sectors, which is 41 per cent higher than the last year. Under this head, the government has allocated Rs73 billion for education, Rs44 billion for health and Rs45 billion for provision of safe drinking water.
Rs158.5 billion has been allocated for infrastructure developments with key focus on roads (Rs85 billion). Rs27 billion has been allocated for the Khadm-i-Punjab Rural Roads Programme which is nearly 48 per cent less than the current year’s allocation of Rs52 billion. Rs41 billion has been allocated for the irrigation sector. Allocation for energy sector has declined to Rs9 billion from Rs31 billion reserved for the current year. The provincial government believes that it has succeeded in attracting private investment for power generation.
As much as Rs109 billion has been allocated for various services sectors – Rs13.95 billion has been allocated for governance and information technology and Rs92.27 billion for transport, which includes Chinese loan assistance of Rs85 billion for the Orange Line Metro Train project in Lahore. Rs2.15 billion and Rs650 million has been allocated for emergency services and labour and human resource development, respectively.
Punjab presents Rs1.681 trillion budget for fiscal year 2016-17
“Policies are not visionary if the provincial government fails to address problems of agriculture sector after presenting its ninth budget in a row,” former finance minister Salman Shah said. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said he had been unable to get a glimpse of the Punjab Growth Strategy, announced in last budget. “Key sectors like agriculture, textiles and industry are still in trouble, which means that allocations are not going in the right direction.”
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Murad Raas said 99 per cent of the assembly members did not know what budget really was. “How can you expect a province to grow when the funds allocated for providing relief to the general public never reach them on time?”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2016.
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