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PESHAWAR: The caretaker cabinet of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday approved Rs198.9 billion interim budget for the first quarter of the next financial year.

The budget covering the July-Oct period of 2018-19 got no new scheme.

Finance minister Abdur Rauf Khattak and finance secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan told reporters after the cabinet meeting here that the caretaker government had fulfilled all constitutional requirements and strictly followed Election Commission of Pakistan guidelines for the budget’s preparation and approval.

Secy says province’s debt liabilities surged from Rs115bn to Rs200bn in five years

“It is a life support budget for the province to ensure government continues to breathe till such a time a when new government takes over,” the minister said.

However, Mr Khattak added that this expenditure authorisation, allowed by the constitutional provisions, would be placed before the next assembly for its approval.

He said that the total outlay of the expenditure authorization equals to roughly 1/3 of estimated revenues.

Caretakers have apportioned Rs145 billion for current expenditure, including Rs84.2 billion for salaries, Rs. 20 billion for pension, Rs3 billion for debt servicing and Rs30 billion for operational expenses.

The primary and higher education departments have been jointly allocated Rs48.10 billion, which amounts 33 per cent of the current budget. Rs21 billion has allocated for the health department, Rs15 billion for police, Rs1.56 billion for agriculture, Rs1.34 billion for irrigation, Rs0.99 billion for road sector and Rs1 billion for wheat subsidy.

The provincial government’s employees received 10 per cent adhoc relief allowance, while the former government employees got 10 per cent pension raise. The government employees will also receive 50 per cent increase in house rent. The finance department also increased the minimum pension from Rs6,000 to Rs10,000, family pension from Rs4,000 to Rs7,000 and pension for those aged more than 75 years has been increased to Rs15,000.

Collectively, the pay and pension raises will cost the province’s kitty Rs23 billion per annum.

About the Annual Development Programme, Mr Khattak said the government hadn’t included any new schemes in it as caretakers were not supposed to give goodies to the public.

He said funds would be released on priority basis to the projects, which were due for completion or in advanced stage. He said the funds would also be released for the snowbound areas so that the development cycle was not disturbed due to the advent of the winter season.

“We have also planned to bring the through-forward period from five to three years and under this policy new schemes would have to be completed within three years as compared to five in the recent past,” he said.

The caretaker government has also allocated Rs108.30 billion for the interim ADP and of this provincial ADP’s would amount to Rs34.29 billion for four months and Rs74 billion foreign funding for the whole financial year.

The transport sector has received lion share of Rs36 billion, which would go to PTI government’s flagship projects including Peshawar BRT and Swat Motorway.

Rs630 million has been allocated for the ongoing projects in education sector, Rs230 million for health, Rs59 million for board of revenue, Rs350 million for clean drinking water, Rs53 million for police, Rs200 million for industries, Rs339 million for road sector, Rs480 million for the extension of the Billion Tree Tsunami programme, Rs121 million for procurement of new animals for the Peshawar Zoo, Rs83 million for tourism and Rs200 million for Peshawar uplift.

KP finance secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan said when the PTI government took over in 2013, the province’s debt liabilities stood at Rs115 billion but it had jumped to Rs200 billion during the last five years.

He said Rs7.4 billion would be spent on debt servicing and interest payment during the next year.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018