Following the announcement of the federal budget for the 2013-2014 year, the four provinces also announced their budgets, and with each announcement came a string of complaints from different sections of society.
The Punjab budget, for example (the wealthiest province in Pakistan) was lauded for its attempt to increase provincial revenue – on the other hand, ‘populist’ schemes with the political purpose of luring potential support for Imran Khan towards themselves were also pointed out by the cautious observers.
Meanwhile, in Balochistan, Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch increased the funding for education as well as law and order – but it remains to be seen whether this has been allocated within these sectors efficiently, and whether they will have a positive impact. However, the fact that spending on education is going up by 42 per cent is commendable – but on the other hand, many of the budget documents are still to be prepared for the province, which one hopes is not a symptom of yet more state inefficiency.
In Khyber Pakthunkhwa, the budget involves an increase in the prices of several commodities, including fuel, which are not popular measures but which may not necessarily be harmful measures in the long run. On the other hand, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, the party leading the provincial government in KP, has not proposed any radical changes in the budget despite its slogan for change. While the governor and chief minister’s expenses have been reduced, it does not necessarily translate into economic reforms which can actually bring about transformation in the KP economy.
In Sindh meanwhile, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government produced yet another uninspired budget, with almost no changes. No reforms regarding agriculture income tax have taken place yet again – an initiative that could have brought in a considerable amount of revenue. Development in Sindh will also depend on the law and order situation in Karachi – which so far has been a problem largely unaddressed.
Keeping in mind the broad contours of the different provincial budgets, what do you think each provincial administration can and should do differently, according to their own unique needs? Which of the provinces seems to have done the most commendable job?
Dawn.com invites its readers to express their views.