- Health, water, solar power, SEZs get massive allocations
Punjab Finance Minister Awais Leghari presented on Wednesday a Rs3.226-trillion budget for the province for 2022-23 that focused on health, water conservation, agriculture, women empowerment and Special Economic Zones.
Meanwhile, another session chaired by Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi took place simultaneously at the provincial legislature as deadlock between the provincial government and opposition continued.
The budget could not be presented in the House on Monday and Tuesday due to conflict between the treasury and opposition benches amid uproar in the sessions.
Addressing a press conference at Lahore, Leghari announced that the province would earn Rs2.52 trillion in revenue in 2022-23 while provincial receipts are expected to clock in at Rs500.53 billion. According to him, Rs435 billion would be spent on income and Rs312 billion on pensions.
“No new sales tax on services has been imposed,” he said.
He stated that Rs470 billion have been set aside for health sector. Out of this, he highlighted that Rs2.66 billion would go towards non-development expenditure while Rs144.5 billion were allocated for development expenditure.
Similarly, Rs3.69 billion were announced for literacy and non-formal basic education and out of this figure, Rs3 billion would be earmarked for development.
Leghari underlined that Rs4 billion were allocated for family planning while primary and secondary healthcare sectors were liable to receive Rs21 billion. An amount of Rs3.87 billion was set aside for primary healthcare development schemes.
“In addition, Rescue 1122 ambulance units will be increased,” the finance minister cited.
The minister shared that Rs1.4 billion had been allocated for marginalised segment. Detailing further, he added that senior citizens belonging to minorities would receive Rs2,000 per month.
“Despite being the food capital of Pakistan, Punjab faced sugar and wheat crisis last year,” he said. “Keeping this in view, we are allocating Rs53.19 billion for agriculture.”
Moreover, he announced that the provincial government was introducing incentive-based crop zoning for farmers. The minister revealed that the government would kick start Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation programme in fiscal year 2022-23.
“Under the scheme, modern technology would be provided to farmers and Rs3.65 billion have been allocated for it,” he said.
The provincial government earmarked Rs2.85 billion for livestock and Rs53.32 billion for water conservation.
The provision of utility services for Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad is being ensured, he said. He announced that a funding of Rs185 million has been fixed for Quaid-e-Azam Business Park while Small Industrial Estate, Sargodha and Leather City, Kasur would receive Rs2 billion and Rs1.16 billion respectively in 2022-23.
The minister announced transport budget at Rs340 million in fiscal year 2022-23. The allocation for energy sector is fixed at Rs5 billion. The provincial government has set aside Rs1.5 billion for conversion of departments to solar energy.
“Climate change is being prioritised to end the menace of smog, forest fires and heat waves in the province,” he said.
The government announced Rs8.83 billion for sports and youth affairs.
“Under the Women on Wheels programme, scooties will be provided to lady health and polio workers,” Leghari said. “The scope of violence against women centres is also being enhanced.” Leghari also announced establishment of hostels for women working far from homes.
Deadlock between govt, opposition
Earlier, the Punjab Assembly witnessed a daylong drama on Monday as Speaker Pervaiz Elahi refused to allow the provincial budget to be presented, demanding an apology from the Inspector General Police (IGP) and withdrawal of all cases lodged against the PTI and PML-Q workers and parliamentarians, in connection with the chaotic April 16 session.
The members of the opposition and the treasury benches held back-to-back meetings for six hours, but failed to reach a consensus. The speaker took strong exception to the non-appearance of the chief secretary and the IGP and asserted that the proceedings would continue only when both officers were present in the assembly gallery.
After keeping the proceedings paused till 11pm, Elahi adjourned the session till 1pm on Tuesday.
However, proceedings could not move forward again when the assembly’s 40th session resumed on Tuesday. Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, who looked frustrated at the speaker’s tactics, announced he would come up with another strategy to deal with the problem.
Later in the day, Governor Balighur Rehman canceled the ongoing 40th session and summoned the 41st at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, some 700 metres away from the Punjab Assembly, at 2pm on Wednesday (today). However, despite the governor’s orders, the speaker declared that the 40th session would continue.