Government terms the budget “Development focused”, Opposition criticizes
Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha on Friday presented the province’s budget for the fiscal year 2017-18, with an outlay of Rs1.971 trillion.
The minister, presenting the budget speech with Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan in the chair, said the provisions Rs635bn for development programmes, adding that the development expenditure was unprecedented in the country’s history.
Punjab’s fiscal 2017-18 development expense is 15 per cent larger than the ongoing fiscal year, the finance minister said.
Earlier, the provincial cabinet had approved the budget in a meeting presided over by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Health spending Increased by 58.4pc
The Punjab government has earmarked a total of Rs111bn for the health sector.
According to budget documents, the government has proposed a 58.4pc increase in health spending compared to Rs70.06bn allocated in the 2016-17 budget.
It is pertinent to mention here the health department has been bifurcated into two separate departments, the Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department and the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department.
An amount of Rs20.41bn has been allocated in the fiscal year 2017-18 for the provision of free medicines.
Rs7.57bn for industries
A sum of Rs7.57bn has been allocated for industries in the proposed budget.
TEVTA will receive about Rs5.05bn as grant-in-aid, and an amount of Rs145.6 million has been reserved for ‘Headquarters Establishment’.
An amount of Rs179.35m has been reserved for the Inspectorate of Mines, whereas the Punjab Small Industries Corporation will get Rs1.42bn as grant-in-aid.
The Punjab Skills Development Project will receive Rs43.35m; Sasti Roti Authority will receive Rs8.8m and Rs180.4 million will be spent on the regional establishment.
The government has earmarked Rs21bn for the agriculture sector in the provincial budget 2017-18.
According to the presented documents, an amount of Rs7bn has been set aside for seven ongoing schemes of agriculture, Rs2.9bn for 11 new schemes and Rs10.1bn for other development programmes.
According to the budget documents, Rs82bn have been allocated for education in the budget proposals.
Rs53.3bn has been allocated under the development programme for school education department, for the completion of 352 ongoing and 758 new schemes.
An allocation of Rs18bn has been made for the higher education. The amount will be spent on completion of 80 ongoing schemes and 26 new ones.
An amount of Rs1bn has been allocated for 15 ongoing and 37 new schemes of special education.