- Provincial minister Sardar Awais Leghari while presenting Rs 3.226 trillion provincial budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 termed it a 'pro-poor and pro-development
LAHORE: The Punjab government Wednesday presented Rs 3.226 trillion provincial budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 after much delay at Aiwan-e-Iqbal instead of Punjab Assembly as the treasury and opposition benches failed to reach a consensus on convening a session.
After a two-day delay, provincial minister Sardar Awais Leghari while presenting the budget termed it a “pro-poor and pro-development”. The opposition and the government convened two separate sessions at the Punjab Assembly and Aiwan-e-Iqbal, respectively. The former’s session started but was adjourned till 1:00 pm today (Thursday), while the budget session started after 4:00 pm.
The opposition’s session took place at Punjab Assembly with Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi in the chair. During the session, the opposition lawmakers criticised the government and PML-N leader Ataullah Tarar who was asked to leave the Punjab Assembly two days back during the first session of the budget.
The opposition stuck to their demand that the inspector-general and chief secretary should appear during the session. As a result, the two sides could not develop a consensus over the issues. Presenting the budget proposals, which were earlier approved by the cabinet, Leghari criticised the previous PTI-led government, saying its policies stalled development in the province for the last three years.
“Data shows that during the period 2019-22, there has neither been a single development programme worth mentioning nor has the province witnessed any social welfare programme,” he said, blaming the PTI government for “wasting their three years in framing false cases” against the opposition. Recalling the last budget of the PML-N government for the fiscal year 2017-18, the minister highlighted that at the time the country’s GDP growth was rising at a steady pace and that the per capita income had reached $1,629. He added that foreign investment was pouring in as Pakistan was declared an investment-safe country, the stock market was the second-best in Asia and international institutions were recognising Pakistan’s growth. The provincial minister accused the PTI-led government of not paying attention to the energy issues which led to other issues including unemployment, poverty, inflation, etc.
Awais Leghari said that the total outlay of the budget is 3.226 trillion which is 22 percent higher than the current budget. Out of this amount, Rs 1,712 billion have been proposed for running expenditures while the total outlay of development budget is Rs 685 billion.
As per budget documents, the total income has been estimated at Rs 2.521 trillion.
It is estimated that over Rs 2 trillion will come from the federal divisible pool. It has been estimated that more than Rs 500 billion will be collected under the head of provincial receipts which is more than 24 % as compared to last year.
It is expected that the government has set the target of collection of Rs 190 billion from Punjab Revenue Authority which is 22 percent more as compared to last year.
The collection target of Rs 95 billion has been set from the Board of Revenue which has been increased by 44 %.
The government has proposed an increase of 2 percent of the excise department and set the target of collection of revenue of more than Rs 43 billion. The government has proposed an increase of 24 % in the non-tax revenue and set the target at Rs 163 billion. The government has increased the ratio of stamp duty from 1 percent to 2 per cent. It is pertinent to mention that the government has allocated 35 % of the total Annual Development Program for South Punjab.
It has allocated a handsome amount of Rs 240 billion for different development projects in South Punjab.
He said the PML-N government attaches priority to the health sector and decided to restore free medicines facilities in the hospitals. An amount of Rs 470 billion has been set aside for the health sector in the budget 2022-23, which is 27% higher than the previous year (2021-22) budgetary allocation of Rs 369.3 billion. An amount of Rs 296 billion has been reserved for non-development expenditures while Rs 174.5 billion have been allocated for development expenditures.
Rupees 485.26 billion have been proposed for the education sector which is 10-percent higher from current year budgetary allocations.
Out of this amount, Rs 428.56 billion have been proposed for non-development budget while Rs 56.70 billion have been set aside for development expenditures.
For schools education, Rs 421.6 billion have been proposed while Rs 59.7 billion reserved for higher education.
Rupees 1.52 billion have been allocated for special education while Rs 3.59 billion have been allocated for literacy and non-formal basic education.
The Annual Development Portfolio 2022-23 has been set at Rs 685 billion.
In terms of development sectors, the highest allocation of Rs. 272.6 billion is for the social sector which includes Rs. 172.5 5 billion for the health sector and Rs. 64 56 billion for education sector, Rs. 164 billion has been allocated for infrastructure development including Rs. 80.8 billion for roads sector.
Major programs/initiatives for the FY 2022-23 include sustainable development program for South Punjab at a cost of Rs. 31.5 billion, Rs. 58.5 billion for sustainable development program, Rs. 125 billion for universal health insurance program, Rs. 1 billion for establishment of Nursing University at PKLI, Rs. 3.65 billion for the transformation of agriculture in Punjab, Rs. 4.8 billion for afternoon school program, establishment of universities in 5 major cities at a cost of Rs. 1.7 billion, Rs. 5.5 billion for the construction of additional classrooms, Rs. 10.9 billion for road maintenance rehabilitation program.
The other initiatives include provision of laptops at cost of Rs. 1.5 billion, revamping of THQ and DHQ hospitals at cost of Rs. 3.1 billion, skill development program (4.2 billion) and Punjab urban land systems enhancement (Rs. 0.5 billion).
Furthermore, the salient features of the Development Portfolio 2022-23 include economic development through public investment, inclusive and balanced regional development, transformation of agriculture sector, ensuring water and food security, human development through skills development, creating an environment conducive to mobilizing private sector resources, support for public-private partnerships, strengthening governance through information technology and bridging the gender divide.
As per the budget documents salaries of all government employees have been increased by 15% and pensions by 5%.
In addition, a special allowance has been proposed in the budget to reduce the widening gap between inflation and rising income rates.
Employees from Grade 1 to Grade 19 will be given a 15% increase in basic salary.
Minimum wages will be increased from Rs. 20,000 per month to Rs 25,000 per month, Rs 435 billion have been earmarked for salaries, 312 billion for salaries and Rs 528 billion have been earmarked for local governments.
The government has allocated more than Rs 23 billion for the development of industry out of which over Rs 12 billion are marked for development projects. The government has allocated Rs 5 billion in the development budget of the energy department.
Earlier, the session chaired by Elahi resumed at 2:40pm, over 1.5 hours later than scheduled, and began with prayers for deceased MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain, former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director Mohammad Rizwan who probed the money laundering charges against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and died of a heart attack last month and Malik Maqsood Ahmad — frequently referred to as Maqsood ‘Chaprasi’ — a central figure in the money laundering case, who passed away in the UAE earlier this month.
Later, PTI Central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid moved a privilege motion against provincial minister Ataullah Tarar for making an “obscene gesture” and violating the privilege of the assembly. PTI’s Momina Waheed said Tarar’s gesture had “violated women’s dignity”. The motion was accepted and the speaker sent it to the relevant committee to decide within two months.
Meanwhile, Mian Mohammad Aslam Iqbal, another lawmaker of the former ruling party, said PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz should have condemned Tarar’s actions. “I have been told to speak less [but] we are not sold. We are standing with [former prime minister] Imran Khan,” he asserted.
Former law minister, Mohammad Basharat Raja, demanded that the room allotted to Tarar in the provincial legislature be taken back.
He also claimed that the incumbent Punjab government wanted to arrest lawmakers on a “large scale”.
The session chaired by Elahi also rejected the Punjab Laws (Repealing and Removal of Difficulties) Ordinance 2022, which was promulgated by the governor yesterday, which stated that the secretary of the law and parliamentary affairs department would issue notifications when the governor or speaker summoned or prorogued a session.
The ordinance also repealed the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Secretariat (Services) Act 2019, the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Act 2021 (XXI of 2021) and the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Act 2021 (XXVI of 2021).
The amendment law had added a schedule to the original 1972 Act, prescribing punishment to a bureaucrat for breach of privilege of the House, any of its committee or member and granting judicial powers to the speaker and/or the committee named by him or the House on the breach.
Reacting to the ordinance in today’s session, Raja termed it a “shameful act”. He claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz had “pleaded” for the amendment law to be passed. Subsequently, the session chaired by Elahi was adjourned till 1pm on Thursday (June 16).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022