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Punjab govt ready to present Rs 651b budget

LAHORE – The Punjab government is ready to present its Rs 651 billion budget for the next fiscal year during the second week of June in the Punjab Assembly, Pakistan Today learned on Tuesday.

The Punjab government has earmarked Rs 432.5 billion for revenue expenditures and Rs 219 billion for the Annual Development Programme (ADP). Official budgetary estimates indicate that the total budget outlay for fiscal year 2011-12 would be Rs 651 billion, which shows an increase of Rs 71 billion (12.72 percent) from the current financial year’s budget estimates. The Rs 432.5 billion allocated to revenue expenditures against budget estimates of Rs 386.8 billion for financial year 2010-11 represents an increase of Rs 45.7 billion (11.8 percent).
Similarly, the estimated Rs 219 billion for ADP is Rs 25.50 billion (13.18 percent) higher than the previous year’s budget estimates.

Official documents point out that the provincial government has frozen all employee-related expenditures at the level of budget estimates 2010-11. However, based on the budget estimates for FY 2010-11, growth has been projected at the rate of 5.4 percent on account of normal increment in employees’ salaries from BPS-1 to BPS-16, and recurring cost of transfer of development programmes to non-development budget after completion of schemes.

In addition, the provincial government has allocated Rs 5.2 billion for the chief minister’s package for medical professionals. The Punjab government has also set aside funds for sanctioning of posts in social sector development initiatives and cost of devolution of ministries transferred to provinces as a consequence of the 18th Amendment. Official documents point out that the maintenance of public infrastructure has been ignored in the last few years.

It highlights that to avoid massive capital investment, the provincial government has decided to increase the allocations for maintenance and repair of public infrastructure related to irrigation, power, public building and highways, among others. Figures indicate that the Punjab government has earmarked an additional Rs 4 billion for the budget estimates of FY 2010-11.

The documents reveal that the government has earmarked Rs 17 billion for clearance of pending liabilities for food subsidies. Furthermore, considering the persistent inflationary trends, the government has allocated Rs 2.5 billion to utilities and petroleum products. In the social sector, the Punjab government has allocated Rs 6.3 billion for the provision of free medicine in public hospitals and for dietary expenses of prisoners in the jails of Punjab.

Figures state that under the Punjab Education Sector Programme, Rs 4.7 billion has been set aside for stipends to girls, free textbooks and management of public sector schools through councils. In addition, the provincial government has decided to protect allocations to the Punjab Education Foundation and Punjab Endowment Fund in fiscal year 2011-12. It has earmarked Rs 8 billion to finance both projects through the development budget.

In the infrastructure sector, the government has planned to continue various initiatives related to housing, livestock, industry, transport and municipal services (solid waste management).
Figures reveal that Rs 7 billion has been allocated to these schemes. Considering the pending formation of the new Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) for local governments, the Punjab government has allocated around Rs 20 billion to local governments. The documents state that primary healthcare and school education is a devolved function and employee-related expenditures of these sectors have grown substantially over the year, so it requires substantial funding.

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