Despite a looming economic crisis, the government has proposed significant increases in the budgets for the secretariats of the president and prime minister and the Cabinet Division for the next fiscal year.
The Budget Priorities Committee on Friday proposed an 11% increase (Rs684 million) in the president’s budget and 15% increase (Rs105.2 million) for the budget of the prime minister for the fiscal year 2013-14. The proposed increases are higher than the targeted inflation rate of 9% for the next year.
In the case of the Cabinet Division, if the increase is being worked out over the original budget, it is in excess of a 40% increase (Rs3.4 billion). However, the Cabinet Division spent Rs2.8 billion or 34% more than its original allocation and so the proposed increase would actually only be 5.5% of the revised budget of the current year. The federal cabinet is just one of a dozen subjects that the Cabinet Division deals with.
The other day the secretaries-level Priorities Committee had proposed cutting the expenditures of Supreme Court, Islamabad High Court and National Accountability Bureau.
Successive governments have failed to introduce meaningful fiscal reforms, and as a result the economic crisis has deepened in the last couple of years, requiring significant consolidations and reduction of unnecessary expenditures.
According to a Finance Ministry official, one of the reasons behind increasing the president and PM Secretariats’ budgets is additional pay and allowances to their employees.
Employees would receive a 150% increase in their salaries. Meanwhile, grade 19 to 22 officials are availing free electricity and gas and grade 1 to 18 employees are refunded up to 30% of their utility bills.
With the proposed increase, the president’s budget will swell to Rs684.6 million next year, as compared to Rs616.7 million this year. Additionally, Rs344 million have been proposed –an increase of Rs28.4 million or 9% over current year’s budget of Rs315.6 million - for the president’s personal secretariat. A Rs340.6 million allocation has been proposed for the president’s public secretariat, which is an increase of Rs39.5 million or 13%.
The PM’s proposed budget is Rs808.1 million, an increase of Rs105.2 million or 15%. The PM’s internal Secretariat will get Rs439.4 million compared to Rs425.5 million for this year and the PM’s Public Secretariat’s proposed budget is Rs368.7 million against Rs277.4 million for this year.
The Cabinet Division’s budget has been proposed at Rs11.7 billion, compared to the Rs8.3 billion budget of this year, indicating a 41.1% increase. In addition to this, an amount of Rs2.5 billion has also been earmarked for the development expenditures of the Cabinet Division.
Finance Ministry spokesman Rana Assad Amin said the trend of expenditures of the first seven months indicated that the Cabinet Division will end up spending approximately Rs11 billion, justifying the proposed increase, which is Rs600 million over the revised budget.
An additional Rs13.2 billion have been proposed for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its missions, which is Rs500 million or 3.8% more than this year’s budget.
For bearing current and development expenditures of States and Frontier Regions, Rs25 billion have been proposed, an increase of Rs3.4 billion or 15.5%. Additionally, Rs13.8 billion has been proposed for Federally Administrated Tribal Areas Secretariat.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2013.
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