IN a sign of improvement in the economic conditions of the province, Punjab Government, on Monday, presented a surplus budget for the next financial year with record allocations for development and imposition of no new taxes, which would surely go a long way in providing relief to the people and give boost to economic and developmental activities in the province.
Rs. 2.65 trillion budget has a surplus of Rs 125 billion and envisages a 66% hike in development expenditure that has been fixed at 560 billion rupees as compared to 337 billion rupees in the outgoing year.
The budgetary proposals convey a vivid impression that the province is on the right course and people can expect a major change for better in their life during the next year provided all programmes and plans are implemented in letter and spirit.
The highest ever developmental allocation in the history of the province would help meet aspirations of the people and create more job opportunities for them at their doorsteps.
Huge allocations for the three-year district development package have the potential to prioritize and resolve problems of the people as, under the programme, schemes sponsored by elected representatives would be funded and executed.
However, the programme would be seriously flawed and create a feeling of discrimination among masses if it was restricted only to PTI members.
The 182% increase in health budget is understandable in view of the situation arising out of Covid-19 and the need to improve, upgrade and modernize the health system.
Appreciably, Rs 80 billion have been earmarked for Universal Health Insurance under which the entire population of Punjab would get quality healthcare facilities.
Following the footsteps of the Federal Government, Punjab too has proposed a 10% increase in pay and pension of the employees/retired government servants besides increasing the minimum wage to Rs. 20,000.
Enhanced developmental allocations for South Punjab and Lahore are a welcome development that could help mitigate problems of the people in view of the ground realities.
People would also welcome continuation of the provincial tax relief of above Rs50bn announced in the budget for the current year to help businesses and consumers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reconstruction of I J Principal Road which is in dilapidated condition and Islamabad expressway expansion project up to T-Chowk Rawat have faced long delays.
Given the flow of heavy traffic on these two main arteries, the CDA Chairman must prioritize work on these projects.