LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) says the funds allocated for agriculture, education and health sectors in the Punjab budget will eventually be eaten up by the Orange Line train project.
“This year’s Punjab budget is in fact a budget of the Orange Line project and payment of its loans. The project’s Rs87bn budget is even more than the total allocated funds for upgradation of hospitals, provision of clean water, improvement of police and other law-enforcement agencies, energy and transport sectors. It is a matter of shame that Rs5bn have been allocated for transport for whole of Punjab and Rs87bn for a few kilometres of the Orange Line train in Lahore,” PML-Q senior leader Pervaiz Elahi told a news conference here on Wednesday.
He said the metro buses in Lahore and Rawalpindi were running into loss and so far subsidy of Rs100bn had been paid for them. Similarly, the annual subsidy of the Orange Line was estimated at Rs16bn.
Laments dismal debt and development situation
“In spite of flood of taxes in every sector a huge deficit of Rs114bn is an ample proof of the PML-N government’s inefficiency and failure. During our tenure development funds utilisation was 98pc, whereas this government has only spent 50pc of development budget,” he said.
Flanked by MPAs Amir Sultan Cheema, Vickas Hassan Mokal, Ahmad Shah Khagga and Dr Azeemuddin Lakhvi, Pervaiz Elahi said in the 2016-17 budget Rs124bn would be paid as interest on loans. “The budget of the PML’Qs tenure (2002-07) was tax free and surplus. This government’s budget has burdened everyone including farmers, traders and industrialists. It will also bring unemployment and price hike,” he said.
He further said the Punjab government had allocated Rs24bn for health in the outgoing year but only Rs3bn were spent, showing this sector was not on the priority list of Shahbaz Sharif. “The Lahore High Court has also observed the Punjab government is not paying attention to the health sector and all funds are being dumped on the Orange Line project,” he added.
Further commenting on the provincial budget, the former deputy prime minister said only 10pc of the last budget had been utilised on schools and the remaining was diverted to Jangla (metro) bus and Orange Line projects. “Similarly, provision of free medicines in public hospitals has been stopped for quite some time and donations are being sought for Rescue 1122. The public hospitals and laboratories are being leased out on contract, heart patients are being given one-year date for checkup at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology and there is an acute shortage of beds in hospitals. Neither incubators not ventilators are available in public hospitals,” he said, adding a 200-bed hospital set up in the PML-Q’s tenure in Layyah and Fatehpur Trauma Centre were functional but this government rendered them dysfunctional.
“Our mega projects in health sector including Fatima Jinnah Institute of Dental Sciences which was established at a cost of Rs2.78 billion, Punjab Institute of Neurosurgery General Hospital Lahore (Rs5 billion), Surgical Tower Mayo Hospital (Rs2 billion), upgradation of Radiation Department in Services Hospital Lahore (Rs1bn) and burn centre in Jinnah Hospital (Rs1.2bn) are not made functional for the last eight years,” he deplored.
He said the total debt of Punjab was Rs620bn whereas the amount of interest on payment of loans annually had crossed Rs124bn. “There was no loan on Punjab during our tenure and even 2007 budget was surplus of Rs100bn,” he said and added that Rs50bn Kissan Package was a ‘fraud’ and aimed at favouring the N-League workers.
He said despite worst law and order situation in the province only Rs13bn were allocated for the police and other LEAs.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2016