AFTER a hiatus of three days, the Balochistan government on Monday unveiled Rs352.3 billion provincial budget for upcoming fiscal year 2018-19 with an allocation of Rs 88.3 billion for Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects. The budget is a deficit one as about Rs290 billion will be provided by the Centre, while the remaining amount of Rs.62 billion will have to be arranged by the provincial government from other sources.
It is unfortunate that despite the province being rich in so many precious natural resources, the government will have to opt for loans from the State Bank of Pakistan to meet the deficit. Presenting the budget in the Provincial Assembly, Adviser to Chief Minister on Finance Ruqayya Saeed Hashmi said the present government wanted to allocate maximum amount of funds for the development sector in order to provide more facilities to the people of the province at their doorstep. In fact this is also need of the hour in order to remove the sense of deprivation of the local population. It is heartening to note that the provincial government has given more emphasis to the health sector in the budget by envisaging 172 new development schemes besides completing 100 ongoing schemes. We expect that the same focus will also be accorded to the education sector on an emergency basis as it is vital to prepare the youth for the opportunities to be generated by the multi billion dollars CPEC and the complete operationalization of deep sea Gwadar port. Under the NFC, the provincial government is getting a substantial amount but it is also imperative that the resource rich province starts generating its own resources by exploiting its hidden treasures. Though incidents of violence still rock the province off and on but we understand overall security situation stands much improved in the province, and it is high time that efforts are fully geared up towards exploiting the indigenous resources — oil, gas, copper, gold and other hidden deposits. For this purpose, cooperation of friendly countries could also be sought as the exploitation of these resources will greatly help the province to stand on its own feet and generate sufficient funds for execution of welfare and development projects.