Rs 1.971tr Punjab budget presented with focus on social sector

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Rs635b provided for development projects; Rs395b for education, 32pc higher from previous year; Rs140.50b for agri sector; Minimum wages of labour fixed at Rs15,000; Govt employees salary, pension up by 10pc

Salim Ahmed

Lahore

With a total outlay of Rs 1.971 trillion, which is biggest in the province history, a tax-free people-relief oriented Punjab budget for fiscal year 2017-18 was presented in Punjab Assembly, here on Friday amid strong protest lodged by the members of opposition benches.
Punjab Finance Minister Dr. Ayesha Ghous Pasha presented the budget 2017-18 in the session chaired by Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal. The opposition members attended the budget session wearing black bands on their arms. They kept on shouting slogans of “Go Nawaz Go” during budget speech of finance minister
Giving a break-up of the budget receipts and expenditures, finance minister said that next financial year’s general revenue receipts are estimated at Rs1502 billion, as the provincial government would receive a total of Rs1154.18 billion from federal divisible pool under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.
Moreover, a total of Rs 348.30 billion will be generated from province’s own revenues which include Rs230.98 billion in tax revenue and Rs 117 billion in non-tax revenue.
Dr. Ayesha Ghous said that out of Rs 636 billion allocated for the annual development programme, which is highest in the province history. She hoped that huge allocation for the ADP would result in creation of new employment opportunities due to initiation of developmental programmes.
She said estimates of running expenditures for 2017-18 are estimated at Rs 1021 billion, out of which Rs 258 billion are for salaries, Rs 173 billion for pension, Rs 361 billion for local governments, and Rs 228.10 billion set aside for service delivery expenditures, which are basically for provision of education, health, law & order and other services.
Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha said the Punjab government has fixed minimum wage of labourer as Rs 15,000 while daily wagers under the Punjab government would also get Rs 15,000. She announced 10-percent raise in salaries of government employees after merging adhoc allowance of 2010. The pensioners would also get 10% raise. For review in salaries and allowances of government employees, the minister announced formation of a pay commission which will submit its recommendations.
She announced cut in GST on Construction Services from 16% to 5% which will grow construction industry. Further, registration fee has been abolished for registration of any firm. The Punjab, she said, has planned to issue Rs 25 billion Investment Bond in a bid to promote savings as well as investment.
During the next financial year, she added, social sector is top priority of the government and Rs 201.63 billion have been allocated for education, health, water supply and sanitation, women development and social welfare.
She said the government has proposed allocation of Rs 345 billion for education sector which is 32-percent high from current year budgetary allocations. In the development programme of school education, Rs 53.36 billion have been allocated.
In the next financial year Rs 230 billion have been set aside for district education authorities which are functional since January his year. Under non-salary budget programme for schools, Rs 14 billion have been allocated while Rs 6.50 billion have been reserved for “Zewar Taleem Programme” and Rs 3.50 billion allocated for provision of free text books in public sector schools. With an allocation of Rs 28 billion under Strengthening of Schools programme, missing facilities will be ensured in the next fiscal. Under Khadim Punjab School Programme, 6519 additional rooms would be constructed in 3421 schools in next fiscal with an allocation of Rs 13 billion.
An amount of Rs five billion has been allocated for net fiscal for disbursement among students under Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF).
For higher education, Rs 44.60 billion have been allocated with addition of over 18 billion for development programme. With allocation of Rs 7 billion under Chief Minister’s Lap Top Scheme, further 100,000 students would get lap tops in next fiscal on merit.
Dr. Ayesha Ghous said that Rs 263.22 billion have been allocated for health sector, which is 15.4-percent of total budget. For primary and secondary healthcare, Rs 112 billion have been set aside while for district health authorities, Rs 73.50 billion allocated in the next fiscal. For modernization of DHQ/ THQ hospitals, Rs 20 billion have been allocated.
For specialized healthcare and medical education department, Rs 120 billion have been allocated with further allocation of Rs 25.26 billion for development schemes. For provision of medicines, Rs 16 billion have been allocated, Rs 4 billion for setting up a modern hospital in Murree, Rs 3.50 billion for provision of medicines to hepatitis patients, Rs 400 million for provision of ventilators in hospital. In the next fiscal year, two new medical colleges in Bhakkar and Attock would be established. Rs 700 million have been set aside for provision of free dialysis facilities. The first phase of Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre would be completed in December this year with cost of Rs 19 billion. For Health Insurance Scheme, Rs 2 billion have been allocated.
The minister said that Rs 140.50 billion have been allocated for agriculture sector for the next fiscal. For Kissan package, Rs 15 billion have been allocated while the Punjab government would pay over Rs 6 billion of agri tube wells besides maintaining prices of fertilizer. For development schemes of this sector Rs 41 billion have been allocated in the next fiscal. For FY 2017-18, another Rs. 17 billion are proposed to be allocated for further improving connectivity of rural areas. In the Livestock sector, in FY 2017-18, an amount of Rs. 19.4 billion is proposed to be allocated.
To address the energy crisis, the minister said the government has not only initiated energy projects from its own sources but has also been focusing on providing an enabling environment to attract private sector investment in energy sector. The efforts of the government have started to bear fruit as 1,180 MW Bhikki LNG Power Plan and 1,320 MW Sahiwal/Qadirabad Coal Power Plant have already started their production. Other major energy projects in Punjab including 1,223 MW Baloki LNG Power Plant in Kasur, and 1,230 MW Haveli Bahadur Shah LNG Power Plant at Jhang will add approximately 9,000 MW electricity to the national grid by March 2018.

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