ISLAMABAD: Pakistan spent an average of Rs260 per person on healthcare as opposed to the Rs485 it spent per person on maintaining law and order during the first half of the current fiscal year, according to a report.
However, the trend appears to be improving. Barring Sindh, spending on healthcare in all the provinces increased at a greater rate than spending on security during the stated period, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Budgetary Expenditures Report of July-December 2011 states.
This was, however, only possible after provinces were handed more resources in lieu of the 7th National Finance Commission Order.
Punjab’s spending on healthcare increased 41% against the previous year while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s expenses increased 42%. In Balochistan, healthcare spending increased 30% while Sindh’s expenses declined by 6.4%.
According to the report, total public sector expenditure on healthcare by all provinces and the federal government stood at Rs46.8 billion. The figure is Rs6 billion or nearly 15% higher than the expenses incurred in the same period of the last fiscal year. The biggest chunk of it, Rs39.4 billion, was spent on general hospitals and clinics.
The health ministry has been devolved to provinces under the 18th Amendment. Thus, almost 93% of the expenses were borne by the provincial governments. Understandably, the federal government’s spending dropped Rs2.9 billion or 46% to Rs3.5 billion this year.
Punjab, the most populous province, spent Rs24.8 billion on healthcare, almost 53% of the total spending allocated to the province. The increase is Rs7.2 billion or 41% higher than the comparative period.
Sindh spent Rs10 billion on healthcare, Rs691 million or 6.4% less than what it spent in the first half of the last fiscal year.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa spent Rs5.7 billion on healthcare, Rs1.7 billion or 42% higher than last year. Balochistan spent Rs2.9 billion, Rs653 million or 30% higher.
On the other hand, total expenses incurred on security stood at Rs87.4 billion – Rs14.5 billion higher than last year.
To maintain law and order, the federal government spent Rs29.2 billion in the six months, Rs4.6 billion or 18.6% higher than last year’s corresponding period. Punjab’s spending on security also increased 13.2% or Rs3.2 billion to Rs27.4 billion.
Sindh spent Rs16.4 billion on maintaining security, Rs3.3 billion more than what it spent earlier. K-P spent Rs9.7 billion as opposed to the Rs2.4 billion it spent earlier.
Balochistan’s expenses on maintaining law and order also increased by Rs945 million to Rs4.5 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.
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