Friday October 22, 2021

Punjab govt unveils Rs2.6tr budget

June 15, 2021

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday unveiled the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 with an estimated total outlay of Rs2.653 trillion, including an Annual Development

Programme (ADP) worth Rs560 billion.

Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht presented the budget, which received unanimous approval from the Punjab Cabinet.

The Punjab Cabinet also approved the much-anticipated 10 per cent increase in salaries and pension of provincial employees and the raise in the minimum wage of workers from Rs17,500 to Rs20,000.

In the cabinet meeting, the Board of Revenue proposed to increase the agricultural tax, however, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and the Punjab Cabinet unanimously rejected the suggestion. The budget session was the maiden one in the newly-constructed building of the Punjab Assembly. The total outlay of the budget has increased by more than 18 per cent and the development budget has gained 66 per cent compared with the current

fiscal year.

The Punjab government has fixed the target of more than Rs400 billion of provincial revenue (both tax and non-tax revue) for the fiscal year 2021-22, which is 28 per cent higher than the ongoing fiscal year’s target. This reflects that the economy of Punjab has been battling the Covid-19 impact and economic managers are anticipating quick growth and economic activities in the coming fiscal year.

For the first time in the history of the province, a separate annual development plan to the tune of Rs189 billion is allocated for south Punjab, while these schemes would also be published in separate budget books.

Furthermore, the funds allocated for south Punjab will not be used anywhere else, and out of total development schemes, a minimum of 35 per cent would be allocated for south Punjab in each sector.

The government has allocated over Rs200 billion for the social sector, including health and education sectors; Rs145 billion for infrastructure development; over Rs55 billion for production sectors, including agriculture, industry, tourism, wildlife, fisheries, forest; and more than Rs90 billion for special programmes. Rs1 billion has been allocated for Cholistan Development Authority (CDA) for water reservoirs and road infrastructure and Rs15 billion for community development programmes. Rs99 billion has been set aside out of a total of Rs295 billion district development programme for all districts of the province.

The government has decided to give a blanket cover of health insurance card to the entire population of the province and has allocated Rs80 billion for the project. A long-awaited air ambulance service project will also be initiated with initial seed money.

Over Rs28 billion has been allocated for the mega projects of Lahore—including the establishment of a new 1000-bed modern hospital in the city, a surface water treatment plant, underpasses, and flyover projects.

Rs3.5 billion has been earmarked for industrialisation in the province and completion of works in the existing industrial estates, while Rs10 billion has been set aside for soft loans of the Punjab Rozgar Scheme.

A total of over Rs100 billion will be spent on road infrastructure in Punjab in the next fiscal year.Rs3 billion has been allocated under the peri-urban housing scheme, while Rs9 billion has been earmarked for water and sanitation. The government has allocated more than Rs31 billion for the agriculture transformation programme.

Rs5 billion has been allocated for livestock and dairy development projects, and Rs5 billion for the improvement of watercourses.

As for environmental protection, an allocation of Rs4 billion has been made out, of which Rs2.5 billion will go to the Prime Minister’s flagship 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPAs and allies have vowed to extend complete support to the government for the passage of the annual budget 2021-22.In a joint parliamentary meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi, who is also the parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), extended complete support to the government over the budget.

The meeting was attended by PTI MPAs, including those who belong to the Jahangir Khan Tareen group, PML-Q MPAs as well as Punjab ministers. The chief minister told the meeting that Pakistan was now entering an era of progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.