LAHORE: The interim Punjab government is expected to give a four-month budget for the province anytime after an expected meeting of the caretaker prime minister with all the chief ministers today (Monday).

The last PML-N government of Mian Shahbaz Sharif had not given the budget for 2018-19 fiscal and left the task up to the next elected government. It had, nevertheless, presented and got approved from the assembly its supplementary budget (extra expenditure during 2017-18).

Chief Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told Dawn that the budget would be presented after a meeting on Monday where the prime minister was expected to guide all the chief ministers on conducting free and fair elections according to law and how to maintain law and order on the occasion.

Officials said the provincial finance department had already prepared the short-term budget as a routine and in anticipation of any financial flaw that could surface in its absence. It just required the chief minister’s approval which would be given after his meeting with the prime minister.

“The budget is going to be announced next week,” an official said.

The financial year ends on June 30, and the caretaker government is bound to give a budget before that for smooth functioning of the government.

This is also necessary to facilitate non-development expenditure of the government that includes salaries of civil servants, a senior official says.

The caretaker government will announce the budget under Article 126 of the Constitution which says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions relating to financial matters, at any time when the provincial assembly stands dissolved, the provincial government may authorise expenditure from the Provincial Consolidated Fund in respect of the estimated expenditure for a period not exceeding four months in any financial year, pending completion of the procedure prescribed in Article 122 for the voting of grants and the authentication of the schedule of authorised expenditure, in accordance with the provisions of Article 123 in relation to the expenditure.”

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2018

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