LAHORE: The Punjab government on Tuesday revealed a Rs 489 billion budget for fiscal year 2009-10, announcing a development outlay of Rs 175 billion.

Presenting the budget in the Punjab Assembly, Punjab Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said the provincial government might establish an autonomous body along the lines of the Federal Board of Revenue to improve the tax collection system. He said the income estimate in the revenue account for 2009-10 is Rs 423.5 billion, while the province would receive Rs 321 billion from the National Finance Commission (NFC) under the federal divisible pool. He said the federal government would also provide Rs 11 billion to the province through grants and direct payments. He said the province would collect Rs 49.7 billion through taxes and Rs 41.8 through non-tax revenues.

Expenditures: The minister said the government has estimated expenditure of Rs 314.8 billion, including subsidies of Rs 30 billion, for the upcoming fiscal year. The subsidies include Rs 6.5 billion for the sasti roti scheme, and Rs 13 billion for food stamps, in addition to initiatives for poverty reduction, and education programmes, he added. He said the government would spend Rs 43 billion to improve the law and order situation, which would include purchase of equipment for counter-terrorism operations; Rs 16.2 billion on the Punjab Food Support Scheme; Rs 4.3 billion to computerise the land revenue record; Rs 2 billion on a disaster management service, which would include the government extending the emergency service to more cities of the province; and Rs 3 billion to establish the Daanish School System and Centres of Excellent Authority. These centres of excellent would ensure the poverty-stricken received the best education, he added. He said the Rs 43 billion being utilised for law and order would be spent to protect the people’s lives, property, honour and livelihoods. He said the government wanted to use the Finance Bill 2009 to exempt stamp duty on transfer of immovable property through inheritance if it was being affected by a development authority, housing authority, statutory body, cooperative housing society, company or land developer.

Pro-poor: Kaira said the Annual Development Programme (ADP) was pro-poor. He said the government had provided 15 percent ad hoc relief allowance to its employees, adding it had increased the pension of retired employees by 15 percent. The Punjab government gave Rs 160 billion ADP in 2008-09, which was 60 percent more than the 2007-08 budget. However, for the upcoming financial year, there is only a nine percent increase in the ADP.

Source: Daily Times