KP’s smart surplus budget

Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur had been visibly active with provincial autonomy, and this budget is a case in point

Editorial May 27, 2024


The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa took all by surprise as it presented a Rs100 billion surplus budget with a development expenditure of Rs416 billion. The total outlay for the FY25 is Rs1.7 trillion, and promises substantial relief measures including cut in sales and property tax, apart from rejuvenating health card with an allocation of Rs28 billion.

The province, under a two-thirds thumping majority of PTI, crossed swords with the federal government by this preemptive budget, and has certainly put the federation in the dock. Conventionally, provinces await the federal outlay, and adjust their income and expenditure, accordingly. But this smart move has set a new precedent leaving little room for the Centre to release the desired funds, due under the audit and accounts of the province.

Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur had been visibly active with provincial autonomy, and this budget is a case in point. It focuses on social protection, law and order and economic development, and has made special strides to please the populace by enhancing salaries and pensions by 10%, and hiking the minimum wage to Rs36,000.

The carefully indexed annual estimate is 21% higher than previous year, and surprisingly comes with subsidies for wheat to the tune of Rs29 billion, and Rs12 billion for youth programmes. Likewise, earmarking Rs3 billion for 5,000 new homes under the Ehsaas Apna Ghar and Rs10 billion for Chashma Right Bank Canal project dilates the propitiation in these hard times.

A careful analysis also reveals that the opposition-less dispensation plans to document the economy, and incentives have been churned out in the form of compulsory invoice management system to elicit tax rebates on hotels and restaurants. Moreover, reduction of commercial tax on rentals to 10% from 16%, a sharp slump of tax from 16-5% on health-related businesses will surely generate positivism.

The best way to offset rising trends of confrontation between the federation and federating units, primarily owing to political jingoism, is to get along, and the purse of the nation is to be made accessible to all. People are desperate for a budget that will get them a sigh of relief.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2024.

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