LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat on Friday presented the provincial budget worth Rs2.3005 trillion, including Rs0.35 trillion for development, for the fiscal year 2019-20 in Punjab Assembly.
The budget session in the Punjab Assembly started earlier, half an hour behind its scheduled time of 3PM, with Speaker Pervez Elahi in the chair. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and other provincial cabinet members were also present in the house.
It is noteworthy that the amount allocated to all major sectors was bumped up this year as opposed to the prior year.
Giving a break-up of the budget in his speech, Bakhat said general revenue receipts for FY19-20 were estimated at Rs1.99 trillion, while the province was expected to get Rs1.601 trillion from federal divisible pool. He added that the total provincial revenue was estimated at Rs0.388 trillion.
The minister said total estimates for the ongoing expenditures were Rs1.299 trillion, comprising Rs0.338 trillion for salaries, Rs0.245 trillion for pensions, Rs0.437 trillion for the local governments, and Rs0.279 trillion for service delivery.
Rs0.3085 trillion has been allocated to health, Rs0.3829 trillion to education, Rs0.1136 trillion to agriculture, Rs0.1816 trillion to public safety and law and order, and Rs0.1493 trillion to public infrastructure. These represent respective hikes of 8.4 percent, 2.7 percent, 23.8 percent, 6.2 percent, and 6.2 percent.
Of the budget outlay, Rs0.35 trillion (a 47 percent jump from last year) was allocated for development projects and Rs1.299 trillion (a mere 2.7 percent hike from the past year) for non-developmental projects.
Of the aforementioned plans, development projects and programmes running on foreign funds were allocated Rs60.5 billion, while Rs42 billion was set aside for the self-financed ones.
The Rs2.3-trillion financial budget was increased from Rs 2.027 trillion.
Separately, instead of Rs0.238 trillion, the reviewed development budget — Annual Development Programme (ADP) — is Rs0.228 trillion.
Punjab’s new budget also includes a proposal for completing mega projects under the public-private partnerships, while the finance department has declared the new budget tax-free and a surplus of Rs0.2 billion.
It also increased the rate of pre-existing taxes and departments have been emphasised to reduce non-developmental expenditure, sources had added.
Sources had further said an increase in the salary of government employees has been proposed along the same lines as federal employees.
A 10 percent increase has been proposed for Grade 16 employees, while a five percent increase has been recommended for Grade 17-20. No increase has been proposed for Grade 20 and 21 officers.
The provincial departments would be obligated to take permission for expenses — including vehicles and furniture — beforehand, sources had added.
Rs0.8b allocated to emergency services
An amount of Rs0.8 billion was allocated to the emergency services sector. Of this, Rs0.666 billion would be spent on 17 ongoing schemes and Rs0.134 billion on seven new ones.
The new schemes are:
the construction of boundary wall and security post for Rescue Lines in Faisalabad; the establishment of Rescue 1122 stations at Dijkot, Adda Akrywala in Jhang, Barthi and Fazal Katch in Taunsa, and Zahir Pir in Khanpur; upgradation of existing rescue stations; and the provision of missing facilities at Rescue 1122 station in Muridke.
Total eight ongoing schemes to be completed in ADP 2019-20.
Major schemes are as follows: Strengthening of emergency services in exiting cities — including one at DHA Rawalpindi; the establishment of emergency services in Hassanabdal and in Multan’s Khokharan; and the establishment of a Rescue 1122 station at Mustafabad.
Rs0.279 trillion allocated to health
Rs0.279 trillion was allocated to the health sector, with Bakht saying the current allocations were 20 percent higher than last year.
Of this, Rs40 billion was allocated for the establishment of new hospitals in Lahore, Layyah, Rawalpindi, Mianwali, Rahim Yar Khan, and Bahawalpur.
The minister also said the provincial government was contemplating raising the status of Children’s Hospital Lahore to a medical university. He said the Health Sehat Card programme would also be expanded to 26 districts of Punjab.
As per the break-up, Rs0.930 billion was earmarked for 42 ongoing development schemes, while 39 new development would be completed with Rs10.1 billion of the specialised healthcare and medical education.
Similarly, the Punjab government fixed Rs18.359 billion for 120 ongoing schemes of the primary and secondary healthcare and Rs5.140 billion for 39 new development schemes.
Highlighting the sector’s goals, the finance minister vowed to provide quality and efficient health services that are equitable, affordable, and accessible to all.
Opposition protests, rip apart budget copies
The members of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Friday staged a protest during Bakht’s speech as he presented the budget. They surrounded the speaker’s dais.
The Opposition benches created pandemonium, chanted slogans against the government, and tore out the budget document’s copies.
After the budget speech, Speaker Elahi adjourned the session till Monday (June 17) at 3PM.