• Salary head claims Rs218bn
• Unrealistic target set for taxman

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtun­khwa government on Wednesday presented its Rs603 billion election-year budget, promising a Rapid Bus Transit corridor for the provincial capital at a cost of Rs53bn. Finance Minister Muzafar Said presented the budget in the provincial assembly, which he termed ‘tax-free and balanced’.

The Rs603bn budget is 19.41 per cent higher than Rs505bn for the current year, which in the revised estimates has been fixed at Rs516bn, indicating 2.3pc increase over budgetary estimates.

The budget documents project the federal transfers to be close to Rs425.63bn, while the province’s own tax and non-tax revenue has been pitched at Rs45.12bn.

The province is set to receive Rs326bn from the federal divisible pool, Rs39.17bn in lieu of 1pc of federal tax assignment for the war on terror, Rs24bn straight transfers and over Rs35bn net hydel profit proceeds and its arrears.

In addition to this, the province would borrow Rs25bn, including Rs15bn from the proceeds of its Hydel Development Fund and domestic borrowing of Rs10bn.

In the revised estimates for the current year, the finance department also claimed ‘expected less expenditure’ of Rs40.30bn due to its austerity measures.

The provincial government has projected its current revenue expenditures at Rs395bn, 15pc higher than the current fiscal year.

In the current revenue expenditure, the province would spend Rs49.86bn on law and order, Rs26.89bn on health, Rs27.55bn on education, Rs6.7bn on housing and community amenities and Rs6bn on social protection.

The finance minister said the government has increased higher education budget by 31pc, health 20pc and elementary and secondary education by 17pc.

On the current side, the budget documents note an alarming increase in salary and pension liabilities of the province.

“Estimated budget for pay and pension makes up for about 70pc of the total current revenue expenditure for 2017-18,” the documents read. It shows that the provincial government workforce recorded an increase of 104,555 personnel during past four years of the PTI rule, while the number of pensioners stands at 160,000. The salary budget has been pitched at Rs218bn from Rs179bn in the current year, a staggering increase of Rs33bn.

The provincial tax machinery again failed to achieve its tax target of Rs32.46bn for the current year, revised downward from original Rs49.50bn. The documents show actual collection of Rs20.91bn over a period of 10 months till April.

Tax target for the 2017-18 fiscal has been pitched at Rs45.21bn.

The development outlay has been projected at Rs208bn. The development portfolio would consist of 1,632 projects, of which 1,182 are ongoing and 450 are new.

It is also 29pc higher than the current ADP, which stood at Rs161bn and its provincial component, was revised upwards to Rs145bn from Rs125bn, while the foreign component slashed to Rs22bn from Rs36bn.

Core development component has been allocated at Rs98bn, while Rs28bn has been allocated to three tiers of district governments across the province.

The province’s foreign aid outlay has been pitched at Rs82bn, including Rs29.4bn grants from international donors and Rs52.2bn loan from the Asian Development Bank to finance Peshawar BRT project.

Development programme also shown inclusion of a CPEC or Chinese investment portfolio having cost of Rs2,452.5bn; however, in the ADP a token allocation of Rs1 million has been made for it.

Mr Said announced that the government was merging 10pc Ad hoc Relief Allowance of 2010 in government employees’ basic pay and would give 10pc allowance on the merged amount.

He said pay and pension raises and other perks and privileges would cost the provincial kitty Rs16bn per annum.

The minister announced 10pc increase in pension, besides swelling minimum labour wage to Rs15,000 from Rs14,000 per month.

Mr Said also presented before the house supplementary budget of Rs47.25bn, including Rs19.28bn current expenditures and Rs27.9bn development expenditures.

Through an amendment in the KP Finance Bill, 2013, ride hailing services have also been included in taxable services.

The Finance Bill 2017-18 also increased taxes on urban immovable properties throughout the province and increased taxes on petrol pumps and CNG stations with convenience stores to Rs22,500 from Rs15,000 and on those without stores to Rs11,500 from Rs7500 per annum.

It also increased tax on service stations to Rs20,000 from Rs15,000, besides enhancing professional tax rates on various professionals and businesses.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2017

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