Balochistan unveils Rs328.5b budget

Rs86b set aside for development; govt to set up Balochistan Bank; Rs43.9b earmarked for law and order

Mohammad Zafar June 16, 2017

QUETTA: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led coalition government in Balochistan has presented its last budget for the financial year 2017-18 with a total outlay of Rs328.5 billion – including a development component of Rs86 billion.

The most important highlight of the budget was a plan to establish a ‘Balochistan Bank’ on the pattern of other provinces for which Rs10 billion has been earmarked in the next fiscal year.

The budget was unveiled in the provincial assembly by Finance Minister Sardar Mohammad Aslam Bizenjo, who also holds the portfolio of agriculture. Most lawmakers, including Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri and the leader of the opposition, were present in the house.

A huge spending is being made on general police services for which Rs43.9 billion has been earmarked to ensure stable law and order.

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However, under the ‘Public Order & Safety Affairs’ a separate allocation of Rs34.8 billion has been made in order to meet the expenses being incurred in maintaining public order and acquiring specialised services of the institutions.

Another big allocation of Rs44 billion has been made for the economic affairs or improving economic services in the province. It includes agriculture, irrigation, industry, mines and mineral, livestock, fisheries, etc.

However, the biggest allocation of Rs45.79 billion has been allocated for education affairs and services. A separate allocation of Rs2 billion has been made for the Balochistan Education Endowment Fund.

Health services have been given due importance for which Rs18 billion has been set aside. There is a scheme to energise all state-run hospitals in the rural areas round-the-clock through solar power during the next fiscal year.

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The government is seeking international assistance from friendly countries and donor agencies to finance the solar projects for hospitals and schools in remote areas.

For housing and community services, an amount of Rs6.2 billion has been earmarked. For sports and recreational facilities, the government has allocated Rs1.9 billion for the next fiscal year.

Capital expenditure is estimated at around Rs36 billion. Rs21 billion has been allocated for loans and advances.

The government has earmarked Rs3 billion for the Balochistan Pension Fund for the next year.

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The Public Sector Development Programme has been given over Rs86 billion, including foreign assistance of Rs6 billion during the next fiscal year. There is a rise of Rs16 billion in the development budget of Balochistan when compared with the outgoing year.

In all, the provincial government will receive around Rs230 billion from the federal divisible pool, straight transfers and grants or GDS arrears.

The provincial receipts are mere Rs12 billion, including Rs7.3 billion as provincial taxes and Rs5 billion as non-tax revenue. In all, the total receipts of the provincial government is estimated at around Rs276 billion while total expenditure is around Rs328.5 billion during the next fiscal year.

The budget deficit is projected at Rs52 billion during the next fiscal year. There was no word from the provincial finance minister in his speech from where the budget deficit of Rs52 billion or the gap in revenue and expenditure will be filled.

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