QUETTA: The provincial government is trying to increase allocation for deve­lopment despite resource constraints by implementing strict discipline and reforming its current expenditures, Balochistan Fin­ance Minister Sardar Aslam Bizenjo said on Friday.

He was addressing a post-budget press conference along with Secretary Finance Akbar Hussain Durrani.

Mr Bizenjo said the share of Balochistan in the federal divisible pool had significantly increased after agreement on the 7th National Finance Commission Award.

The province requires a lot of more funds to catch up with other provinces, he added.

In the past, Balochistan’s resources were used for the development of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for a long period of time, he said.

The province is paying Rs15bn annually on account of pension which is a huge burden on its economy

He complained that the Federal Minister for Planning and Development Dr Ahsan Iqbal had ignored the needs of Balochistan while allocating funds under the federal Public Sector Development Programme.

Balochistan requires more funds for development because of its size despite thinly populated areas, he added.

Improving service delivery

The minister said the provincial government is implementing fiscal and governance reforms to improve public service delivery in Balochistan.

The government would take very strict action against teachers and doctors who were regularly drawing salaries but not performing their duties, he said. He went on to add the government had reached an agreement with Nadra to identify ghost provincial employees.

Mr Bizenjo said the provincial government departments have been instructed to scrutinise the credentials of 30,000 employees.

He said the completion of the mega projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was critical for the future prosperity and development of Balochistan.

The government has increased the budget for social sectors including education, health, and potable water as well as security.

Replying to a question, the minister said, “You cannot improve public service delivery without improving security.”

He further said that the government had allocated a significant amount of money for developing agriculture in the province.

Pointing out the government subsidy of Rs13 billion on agriculture tube well bills, Mr Bizenjo said the step had helped the province become self-sufficient in wheat production this year.

Replying to a question, Secretary Finance said the revenue collection had improved in the province with the introduction of tax reforms.

Balochistan Revenue Authority collected Rs3bn GST on services, he added.

Mr Durrani said Balochistan is paying Rs 15bn annually on account of pension which is a huge burden on its economy and would further increase in coming years.

In view of this, the provincial government had decided to invest over Rs3bn during the financial year 2017-18 and every year the investment amount would be increased to meet the pension expenditures, he added.

Replying to a question, the secretary finance said that oil and gas companies, which were issued exploration licenses in the province, were reluctant to initiate work citing the reason of unstable law and order scenario in the province. However, he said that after 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Balochistan government had asked the companies to proceed with the exploration work in allocated areas else their licences would be cancelled.

The finance minister said the provincial government had increased the powers of local bodies’ institutions and also enhanced their funds. During 2016, Rs 11bn were provided to the local bodies in Balochistan, said Mr Bizenjo.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017

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