Surplus budget

Editorial June 24, 2024


Balochistan has proposed a surplus budget with a total expenditure of Rs930.20 billion, and is comfortably placed in terms of receipts from the federal and provincial pools. One of the prominent aspects of the budget is that it has hiked allocation in the education sector by 52%, earmarking a staggering Rs146.9 billion. Likewise, allocations have seen a substantial rise in health, agriculture as well as law and order in the restive and desolate province which is once again hit with lawlessness and political instability.

The budget has come as a relief for the government employees and pensioners, with a 25% and 15% raise, accordingly. A noticeable aspect is that apparently owing to simmering unrest, the budget has allocated Rs84 billion for security gear, along with Rs1 billion for purchase of vehicles. So is the budget of Rs1 billion for Gwadar safe city, whereas Quetta will get Rs193 million to secure and buoy its monitoring system. Likewise, the critical sector of food security was given Rs1 billion, and agriculture’s development and non-developmental proposed layout is Rs23.8 billion, with Rs67.3 billion going to the health services.

While the province does not seem to have a problem in making its ends meet, the beleaguered coalition got a shock from the judiciary as it expressed its displeasure over the procurement of wheat from farmers on a subsidised rate. A two-member bench of Balochistan High Court ruled the cabinet’s decision to purchase wheat at subsidised rates as illegal, stating that it “did not meet the standards of reasonableness and prudent financial management.”

This is an evolving phenomenon countrywide as Punjab and Sindh too had witnessed similar highhandedness from local dispensation as farmers were neither given their due, nor was their produce purchased by the respective provinces in due course of time. This is tantamount to a scam in the making, and the court has rightly addressed it. The BHC, likewise, went on to direct the Chief Secretary to allocate Rs500 million of wheat procurement for loan repayments, town planning, clean water supply projects and shutting down the ineffective departments. Submission in solemnity is indispensable.


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