September, 30, 2023
Punjab Budget Focuses on Development

Punjab Budget Focuses on Development

The combined sum amounts to 1,719 billion for pensioners below the age of 80. Those aged 5 and above received a 20% surge in their benefits. Additionally, the budget allocated for education and healthcare experienced a notable rise of 31%. Moreover, a journalist endowment fund of 1 billion was established. These developments pertain to the province of Punjab.

Mohsin Naqvi announces 70 billion allocated for public relief, with Punjab benefiting from a reduced 1% stamp duty rate and zero new taxes. Aamir Mir and SM Tanveer confirm 600 billion loan forgiveness for wheat procurement.

Lahore – The budget for the province of Punjab was presented, amounting to 17 billion rupees for a four-month period. The budget was approved during a provincial cabinet meeting chaired by caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi. In accordance with Article 126 of the Constitution, the budget will cover the period from July 1, 2023, to October 2023. Chief Minister Naqvi emphasized the importance of completing ongoing development projects promptly. No new taxes were imposed in the Punjab budget. The budget announcement was made by Caretaker Information Minister Punjab Aamir Mir and Industries Minister SM Tanveer during a press conference. They stated that the total expenditure for the four months is estimated at 1,719.3 billion rupees. The federal government will contribute 881 billion rupees in revenue, while the province will collect 194 billion rupees through personal revenue. The budget aims to be people-friendly.

The government has increased the basic salaries of government employees by 30%, implemented as ad hoc relief. For pensioners aged 60 to 80 years, the pension has been raised by 5%, and for retired employees above 80 years, the pension has been increased by 20%. A total of 719 billion rupees have been allocated for salaries and pensions. The budget for education and health has been raised by 31%. Additionally, all taxes and duties on the IT industry have been abolished.

The budget includes an allocation of 70 billion rupees for social welfare and 4,120 billion rupees for service provisions. Furthermore, a journalist endowment fund of one billion rupees has been established, leaving 112 billion rupees for the next four months. An amount of 70 billion rupees has been allocated to provide relief to the people of Punjab. No new taxes have been introduced, and the stamp duty remains at 1%. The proposal to increase the stamp duty rate by 3% to promote the construction industry was rejected.

In terms of sector-specific allocations, 16.4 billion rupees have been approved for the energy sector, while 47.6 billion rupees have been designated for agricultural sector development. The Punjab government has decided to repay loans amounting to 600 billion rupees taken from banks for wheat purchases. The interest on this loan accumulates at a rate of 25 crores daily. The repayment of these loans will be completed within the four-month budget period. However, this will limit the funds available for public welfare projects due to the accrued interest expenses.

The caretaker chief minister has been selected by the Election Commission, and the government is operating under the commission’s supervision. Once the election date is announced, the caretaker government will hold the election and step down. Sales tax has been abolished in light of information technology, and 70 billion rupees have been reserved for poverty alleviation, with an additional 65 billion rupees allocated for agriculture over the next four months.

The budget includes block allocations aimed at controlling inflation. Notably, the process for pension document preparation has been improved. Retired employees will now receive 65% of their salary for up to one year after retirement while their pension documents are being processed, providing substantial benefits to pensioners. Election expenses are the responsibility of the federal government, while the provincial government will fund security expenses for the general elections.

The budget aims to shift from non-targeted subsidies to targeted relief for public welfare. The subsidies will no longer be exclusively focused on flour, and cash transfers may be utilized as well. It is important to note that Punjab currently does not have a provincial assembly. Hence, the caretaker government has presented a four-month budget, which has been approved by the caretaker provincial cabinet under Article 126 of the Constitution.

For the current financial year, the overall budget size is 3,206.4 billion rupees, while the four-month budget size is 1,719.3 billion rupees. The development budget for the current fiscal year is 685 billion rupees, with 325 billion rupees allocated for the next four months. Additionally, 153.6 billion rupees have been set aside for subsidies, and 193.5 billion rupees for the provincial finance commission. The cabinet has also approved the completion of 50% of ongoing development projects within the four-month period. Furthermore, 16 billion rupees have been allocated to make a non-functional power plant in the Jhang area operational by 2017.

During the cabinet meeting, the establishment of the Information Technology Park in Lahore Knowledge Park was approved. Chief Minister Naqvi visited the Punjab Institute of Cardiology to review the treatment facilities and took notice of the shortage of angioplasty guiding theaters. He instructed the Secretary of Health to ensure the immediate provision of these theaters. He also expressed a commitment to further improve the treatment facilities at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.


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