- Provincial finance minister Hashim Jawan Bakht also announces 10% increase in govt employees' salaries
Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht presented on Monday Punjab's budget with a total outlay of Rs2.653 trillion for financial year 2021-22 .
Addressing the Punjab Assembly in Lahore, he said the amount, which includes funds from the Annual Development Programme, is 18% higher than the previous budget.
Powering through his budget speech even as the opposition loudly chanted anti-government slogans, Bakht said the coming fiscal year will "guarantee development of the province".
"An amount of Rs560 billion has been earmarked in the budget for development projects, an increase of 66%, while 35% of the total budget will be spent for south Punjab," said Bakht. “I believe that our development program will guarantee Punjab’s development, stabilise the economy, and increase welfare of the people."
For infrastructure development, including roads, irrigation, Rs145.4 billion has been allocated.
Bakht said that the health sector is a high priority for the provincial government, which is fighting the coronavirus pandemic. “For the upcoming financial year, an amount of Rs98 billion is being allocated for the health sector development budget, an increase of 181%.”
The provincial minister said that under the Universal Health Insurance Program, 100% of the Punjab population would be able to avail quality healthcare facilities free of cost. “Through the health insurance card, every citizen of the province can get treatment from any government or registered private hospital, while over 110 million people in Punjab will be provided health insurance by 31 December, 2021.”
An amount of Rs442 billion has been allocated for education, which is 13% higher when compared with last year.
Govt employees' salaries and pension payments
Bakht also announced that salaries of all government employees would be increased by 10%, while special allowance has been proposed to be increased in the salaries of more than 721,000 employees of grades one to 19 who did not get the allowance earlier.
Minimum wage increased to Rs20,000
It was also proposed to increase the pension payment of government employees by 10%, while the minimum wage of laborers in the province has been fixed at Rs20,000 per month.
Meanwhile, Rs100 billion has been allocated for the District Development Program.
Under the Punjab Annual Development Program, Rs23.375 billion has been earmarked for services including governance & IT, labour & HR development, transport and emergency services.
Bakht said the coronavirus pandemic dented economic progress but the government overcame the challenges and brought Covid-19 under control.
Earlier on Sunday, Amber Jabeen, spokesperson for the finance minister and the Punjab Planning and Development (P&D) Department, said that the provincial budget will facilitate the business community and be 'people-friendly'. “A special package for industrialists would also be announced in the budget in addition to several welfare projects for people,” Jabeen said on Sunday.
Highlighting the salient features, the spokesperson said the budget would have “good news” for farmers, labour, and government employees.
“The budget will ensure economic progress with record allocation of funds for development projects. It will ensure health insurance of 100 percent population of the province by December 2021,” she said, adding that communication projects will boost economic activity and ease mobility in the province.