Minister for Finance Sirajul Haq informed the provincial legislature that the government has brought down the province’s debt by Rs4 billion in the first year of its tenure.
Summing up the budget debate in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly on Friday, Haq informed that when the present government took over, the province’s debt stood at Rs132 billion and was now down to Rs128 billion.
In his speech, Haq defended the 2014-15 provincial budget, claiming the government has attempted to achieve the maximum with meagre allocations. He said the total provincial budget of Rs404.805 billion was not enough to even completely resolve issues faced by a single district.
He said K-P was reliant on the federal government for about 95% of its revenue receipts, saying the estimate of federal revenue receipts up to June 30 was around Rs2,475 billion with K-P’s share standing at Rs222 billion.
He said the province was to get Rs228 billion from federal tax assignments and generate about Rs29 billion from its own resources. The senior minister said K-P has feasible opportunities to generate about 18,000 megawatts of electricity and also has adequate resources of oil and gas that could be utilised for the province’s development.
Listing the crises faced by the province over the years, including the influx of Afghan refugees, earthquake, floods and lawlessness, Haq said the net hydel profit owed to the province was its right and if the centre provides it Rs550 billion as agreed under the AGN Kazi formula, all problems faced by the province can be solved. However, he said a technical committee formed by the federal government has apportioned K-P’s share at Rs140 billion and that the federal finance minister promised him that both the province and centre will take up the issue again in July. Haq hoped that all the political forces of the province will stand by the government on this issue.
The senior minister assured the house that all the members will get their share of the development pie, saying development funds for road construction were divided among lawmakers by the chief minister himself.
Haq also said the government has formed a committee headed by the chief secretary to permanently resolve service structure and up gradation issues of provincial government employees. The committee will present its report within 90 days.
Elaborating on the ‘pro-poor’ sections of the budget, Haq said the government has allocated a Rs6 billion subsidy for the poor who will get a discount of Rs40 per kilogramme (kg) on ghee and Rs10 per kg on flour. He said the government was setting up human rights offices in 17 districts of the province to protect the rights of poor while Rescue 1122 centres will also be expanded to three more districts this year.
The K-P Regulation of Lady Health Workers Programme, Employees (Regularisation and Standardisation) Ordinance 2014 and K-P Ehtesab Commission (amendment) bill 2014 were introduced in the house. The session was later adjourned till Saturday morning (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2014.
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