PESHAWAR: The provincial government has proposed to allocate RS 209 billion for development funds for the next fiscal year of 2019-20, as it aims to put out a surplus budget next week.
A budget report for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government showed that of the total outlay of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) set at Rs209 billion. It includes Rs121.5 billion, which will be provided by the provincial government, while Rs87 billion will be provided by foreign sources.
Of the funds provided by the provincial government, Rs85 billion will be for provincial development projects while Rs36.5 billion will be for district development programmes.
The foreign component in the annual development fund comprises a soft loan segment worth between Rs45 billion to Rs50 billion while around Rs35 billion to Rs36 billion will comprise of grants.
Budget documents disclosed that for the financial year 2019-20, the provincial government has allocated money for some 234 projects. Following on from the example it set last year where it prioritised ongoing projects over new ones, the K-P government has included 213 ongoing schemes and only 21 new schemes in the new budget, including projects in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
The provincial government has allocated Rs1.7 billion for industrial development, another Rs3 billion has been allocated for forestry development, Rs2.22 billion for relief and rehabilitation, Rs3.2 billion for interior affairs , Rs4 billion for higher education, Rs4 billion for DSSP, Rs4.98 billion for urban development programmes, Rs5.2 billion for finance, Rs5.66 billion for sports and tourism, Rs6 billion for special measures, Rs7 billion for local government, Rs8 billion for energy and power, and Rs10 billion for agricultural development.
For irrigation systems, the provincial government has decided to set aside Rs10 billion, Rs10.25 billion for health, Rs14 billion for transport, Rs20.44 billion for multi-sector development and Rs40 million for the environment.
A further Rs26 billion has been allocated for lower education.
Moreover, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expected to provide Rs29 billion for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project being built in Peshawar. This comprises the largest grant or loan provided for a single project in the province.
The district-wise division of the ADB budget showed that Rs7.19 billion are being allocated for the provincial capital of Peshawar, Rs3.62 billion for Swat, Rs3 billion for Nowshera, Rs2 billion for Swabi, RS1.62 billion for Mardan, Rs1.75 billion for Haripur, Rs1.35 billion for Abbottabad, and Rs110 million for Battagram.
Last year, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led provincial government had allocated Rs180 billion for the financial year 2018-19. This was revised upwards to Rs189 billion during the year. Hence, the allocation of Rs209 billion represents an increase of 10.58% over last year.
K-P Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai on Wednesday said that the provincial government has decided to reduce the salaries of provincial cabinet members by 10% in line with a decision taken by the federal government. However, unlike the federal government which presented a deficit budget, the provincial government was aiming for a surplus budget this year.
While speaking to the media on Wednesday, Yousafzai said that owing to the severe economic problems, they had decided to lower the salaries of provincial ministers by 10%.
He added that both, Prime Minister Imran Khan and K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, have issued clear instructions to reduce the expenses of the government.
Claiming that the budget for the next fiscal year 2019-20 will be the best one yet, the information minister said that they have proposed cuts on different taxes while ensuring that the budget is one of surplus and not a deficit.
With the federal government raising the minimum wage to Rs17,500, Yousafzai said that this will be implemented in the province as well.
In response to a question, Yousafzai said that the federal government has announced to increase the salaries of government employees between the basic pay scale (BPS) grade 1 to 16 by 10% and that the province will also follow this formula.
“But we are increasing the salaries of employees in grades 17 to 19 by five per cent,” he said.
The budget on June 18
The PTI-led provincial government is expected to lay out its budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 on Tuesday, June 18.
In a notification issued by the K-P Assembly on Wednesday, the budget session has been set for 3 pm on June 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2019.