• Rs2.653trn budget presented
• Development outlay raised by record 66pc; Rs560bn reserved for ADP; Rs405bn tax collection target set
LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday presented the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 with an estimated outlay of Rs 2,653 billion which is 18 percent more than the current fiscal year’s budget and includes an Annual Development Programme (ADP) worth Rs560 billion.
The budget session was the maiden one in the newly-constructed building of Punjab Assembly. Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht presented the budget. The government expected to get Rs 5,829 billion from federal Divisible Pool and is expected to get Rs 1,684 billion from the National Finance Commission Award which is 18 percent more than the current fiscal year’s allocation.
In his speech, Hashim said a target of Rs 405 billion had been set for provincial tax collection which is 28 percent more than the current fiscal year. The current expenditure estimates in the budget is around Rs 1,428 billion. The government has increased the development budget by 66 percent which shows that it is committed to bringing economic prosperity in the province. He said the government allocated Rs 189 billion for the South Punjab which is 34 percent of the total annual development budget of Punjab. The government has allocated Rs 12 billion for the development of industrial sector and more than Rs 28 billion for Lahore considering its importance as a business hub, he added.
He also said that health and education sector is the priority of the government as it has allocated Rs 370 billion for health sector. The government has allocated Rs 96 billion for development budget of health sector which is 182 % more than more than current fiscal year and it is initiating universal health insurance program with the allocation of Rs 82 billion. Under this program, 100% population of Punjab will get free and quality health services. It is expected that government will issue health cards to 110 million people of the province.
Moreover, the minister said, the government has allocated Rs 442 billion for the education sector which is Rs 51 billion more than the current year and more than Rs 54 billion has been earmarked for the development budget while Rs 388 billion has been allocated for the current expenditure. More than Rs 6 for the upgradation of schools and Rs 23 billion for the schools run by Punjab Education Foundation and Punjab Education Initiative Management Authority billion has been reserved. The government has allocated Rs 15 billion for higher education which is 285% more than the current fiscal year.
In order to ensure food security and increase agricultural productivity, the minister added, the government has made a whopping increase of over 300% in the agriculture development projects. It allocated more than Rs31 billion for the agriculture transformation and Rs 100 billion for Agriculture Transmission Plan. Moreover, Rs 55 billion has been set aside for the irrigation sector.
For livestock and dairy development projects, Rs5 billion have been allocated, and for the improvement of watercourses, Rs5 billion have been earmarked. 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.
The government has earmarked Rs 380 billion for construction, repair and expansion of roads in the province. In order to provide relief to the tax payers and revival of business, the government has proposed tax concessions of Rs 50 billion. There will be no change in the rate of stamp duty and it will remain 1% only. The ratio of sales tax on services will remain 5%. The government has proposed reduction of tax ratio on call centers from 19 % to 16 %. The government has also proposed a 10% increase in salaries and pension of provincial employees besides increasing the minimum wage of workers from Rs17,500 to Rs20,000.
Earlier, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar chaired a cabinet meeting to approve budgetary proposals for the financial year 2021-22. The finance secretary briefed about the budget details while chairman P&D apprised the participants about the salient features of the ADP.
The cabinet also approved the supplementary budget of 2020-21 along with the approval of revised estimates of the current budget 2020-21. Finance bill 2021 was also approved by the meeting and the cabinet approved a ten per cent increase in salaries and pensions of provincial government employees. The CM and the cabinet, however, unanimously rejected the proposal of the Board of Revenue to enhance the agriculture tax.
Addressing the meeting, the CM emphasized that the peasants will not be burdened, adding that the farming community will be made more prosperous by the PTI government. He appreciated that the cabinet has enhanced the minimum wage of workers from Rs.17,500 to Rs.20,000 and congratulated the finance minister, Advisor Dr Salman Shah, Chief Secretary, Chairman P&D, secretary finance and others for the balanced budget.
A record increase has been made in the development budget for the first time, he said. A separate development package has been devised for every district and realistic targets have been identified to facilitate the common man, he emphasized. The priorities have been identified according to the basic needs of the people, he continued. This budget is not a jugglery of words but a document of balanced development, the CM stated. A continuous liaison will be maintained with parliamentarians during the budget session, he further said.
The CM said inefficient opposition is only meant for making hue and cry at every occasion and advised it to avoid indulging in criticizing every good work done by the government. It also caused uproar in the corona pandemic while leaving the people in the lurch, the CM regretted.
The meeting endorsed the decisions of the 57th and 58th meetings of the cabinet standing committee for finance and development along with the decisions made in the 60th, 61st and 62nd meetings of the cabinet standing committee for legislation.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021