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September 14, 2018

KP bracing for difficult budget


September 14, 2018

PESAHWAR: Provincial Finance Minister Taimoor Saleem Jhagra on Thursday said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was bracing for a difficult budget and like the entire country the province would have to pay for irresponsible spending by the previous federal government.

Talking to The News, he disclosed that a budget plan for five years was being lined up to ensure consistency of planning and continuity of projects of public good.

The provincial government has to announce budget for the remaining eight months of the current financial year 2018-19 as the caretaker government in the province in June 2018 had approved Rs198 billion budget for the first quarter (July-October) with a development outlay of Rs53.1 billion for the quarter of the current fiscal.

The provincial government on the pattern of federal government had also approved 10 percent ad-hoc relief allowance in salaries and pension for the government employees.

Taimoor Jhagra said the next eight months of the financial year would be difficult in terms of allocations as the province, like rest of the country, would be forced to pay for what he termed irresponsible spending by the previous government in the centre.

The minister appreciated the previous government of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for its policies and said the 30 percent allocations to the local governments remained distinctive feature of governance in the province.

The local bodies’ tiers might have not got the entire allocations, but even then compared to the other provinces the funds allocation and subsequent releases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained unparalleled in the country, he argued.

Taimoor Jhagra said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan the nazims at the village council level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received record development funds.

Referring to the distribution of funds to the local government representatives, he said, “We have already started journey in that direction and this would continue during the current financial year as well.”

He maintained that one-third of the financial year had already passed and the budget for remaining period was due in the next 30 days in which they would have a very limited fiscal space for new projects.

However, the government would focus on the ongoing projects as it is its responsibility as well as the right of the people to the get these projects completed as per schedule, he added.

“We will mainly focus on our key commitments laid down in our 100 days plan and will allocate funds for tourism, education, health and essential infrastructure development. Similarly, we will make fiscal space for social development projects. We will make space for projects like Sehat Insaf Card and Tsunami forestation projects, etc,” Taimoor Jhagra revealed.

He hinted at the review of these projects and said the international donors and development partners were excited to spend in our province and therefore they would be taken on board.

“The bureaucracy has already prepared the budget for the current fiscal and the documents show that the province would spend Rs598 billion during the current financial year, including Rs439 billion current expenditures and Rs159.4 billion development outlay,” he pointed out.

The province in its current financial year budget has planned to spend Rs253 billion on salaries, Rs60 billion on pensions and Rs126 billion on non-salary expenditures.

The province is spending 27 percent of the budget on development. It has estimated to spend Rs73.3 billion on provincial Annual Development Programme (ADP) projects, Rs29.3 billion as district ADP. The ADP is expected to receive Rs56.8 billion for spending on the Foreign Project Assistance (FPA) projects.