Tuesday August 16, 2022

Balochistan unveils Rs612.79bn deficit budget

Finance Minister Abdul Rehman Khetran presented the budget for 2022-23 with Deputy Speaker Babar Musakhail in the chair

June 22, 2022
Balochistan unveils Rs612.79bn deficit budget. Photo: The News/File
Balochistan unveils Rs612.79bn deficit budget. Photo: The News/File

QUETTA: The Balochistan government on Tuesday presented a deficit budget with a total outlay of Rs 612.79 billion. Finance Minister Abdul Rehman Khetran presented the budget for 2022-23 with Deputy Speaker Babar Musakhail in the chair.

The finance minister said the provincial government would get Rs370.33 billion from the federal government under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award whereas the budget deficit was over Rs72 billion. A total of Rs367 billion had been allocated for non-development expenditures for 2022-23 while Rs191.51 billion has been earmarked for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). He said the total number of ongoing development schemes was 3,367 for which Rs133 billion had been allocated and the total number of new development schemes was 3,470 for which Rs59 billion had been allocated.

He said the government of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and its allies had so far presented three budgets and this was their fourth budget. He announced that the government had decided to increase the salaries of government employees by 15 per cent on their basic salaries as of 2017 besides increasing pension by 15 per cent. He said 2,850 vacancies had been created to provide jobs in Balochistan and the province would get Rs14.36 billion from the foreign support fund and Rs40 billion from the Sui Gas lease.

Highlighting the provincial government’s priorities, he said the government accorded priority to health and education sectors as Rs6.60 billion were allocated for the provision of medicines to patients across Balochistan. "Our government has completed its eight-month term. This period is too short to evaluate the performance of any government. However, we have set a record by securing many important achievements during this short period," he said.

“In addition to the historic Reko Diq agreement, we have from the very beginning focused on creating employment opportunities for the youth of Balochistan,” he said, adding that after the formation of provincial government, the biggest challenge was to implement the provincial development programme for the current financial year for which there were almost no resources. However, the government reduced its non-development expenditure as much as possible.

The minister noted: “We can provide resources for development schemes, but the fact is that the PSDP 2021-22 was apparently a one-year development programme but in reality, the PSDP 2021-22 was set up far beyond the available resources due to which we have to focus on it. There were severe difficulties in implementation and it took us some time to balance it,” he said and added that the government got ahead of other provinces by introducing the Balochistan Public Finance Management Act to prevent financial irregularities in the province, which was no less than an honour.

This important legislation put the financial process and budgeting in the right direction. This landmark legislation ensured an unprecedented level of efficiency, effective accountability and equitable distribution of resources in development projects, including public service delivery and non-development budgets.

The finance minister said: “Our government had been facing financial problems from the very beginning, but in spite of unfavourable conditions, it was ensured that government and opposition circles get equal resources for development projects.”