Punjab cabinet presents 2018-19 budget with emphasis on populist concerns

Updated October 16, 2018

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A top-down view of the Punjab Assembly. —File photo
A top-down view of the Punjab Assembly. —File photo

The Punjab Assembly convened a session on Tuesday, chaired by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, during which the annual budget for fiscal year 2018-19 was approved with majority consensus.

During the session, the finance bill and developmental schemes for the year 2018-19 were also accorded approval by the cabinet.

CM Buzdar appreciated the "tireless efforts" put in by ministers of relevant departments in the preparation of the budget and complimented the chief secretary, chairman of the provincial planning and development department, and chairman of the provincial treasury department.

"The whole team engaged in the tough task of the preparation of the budget with a lot of zeal and hard work," noted CM Buzdar. "I thank them all on behalf of the entire cabinet."

"The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's first provincial budget has been devised keeping the common man in mind. Despite the tough [economic] situation the country is faced with, the budget has outlined measures to provide relief to the common man, in accordance with [Prime Minister] Imran Khan's vision," he said.

He said that the budget was a reflection of the party's manifesto, which will open the doors of progress and prosperity in Punjab. He added that unparalleled steps have been proposed for social development, especially in South Punjab.

Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Bakht, addressing the cabinet, said: "We have set reality-based targets in the budget. There has been no wizardry shown in the presentation of numbers and figures in the budget. It is based purely on facts."

"We have determined our priorities while remaining within our limited resources," he added.

During the session, the cabinet members were also apprised of the salient features of the provincial budget and annual development schemes envisioned for the province, for which the cabinet members presented their viewpoint in return.

The budget

The total outlay for the 2018-19 budget was presented as Rs2,026.51 billion, of which general revenues were estimated to be Rs1,652 billion, with Rs1,276 billion expected from the federal revenue pool. Rs148 billion was projected as a budget surplus.

The provincial revenue was estimated as Rs376 billion, of which tax revenue was estimated at Rs276 billion, whereas non-tax revenue was estimated at Rs100 billion.

Rs238 billion have been allocated to developmental projects, Rs373 billion to education, Rs500 million to pre-primary schooling, Rs50 million for technical training and education, and Rs1 billion reserved for scholarships for talented and deserving students.

The health ministry has been allotted Rs284 billion as well as 8 per cent of the amount allocated to developmental programmes. It was also decided that health insurance programmes will see an increase by 36 per cent. Besides this, the launch of the Insaf Sehat Card was also announced.

For the supply of clean water and proper sewage disposal, Rs50.5 billion have been allotted. Rs6 billion will be devoted to the supply of clean water in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The Punjab government has also decided to open a cardiology centre and a children's hospital in Balochistan, it was announced.

Rs15 billion were apportioned for the welfare of farmers under the kisaan package whereby they will be provided interest-free loans. Besides this, Rs19.5 billion will be given to the irrigation department.

For total infrastructural development in Punjab, a sum of Rs149 billion will be allocated; the road sector will receive Rs68 billion, and transport will be given Rs35.5 billion. Additionally, Rs33 billion will be apportioned for the the Orange Line project, and Rs5 billion for the development of rural roads.

It was further announced that for the prime minister's Clean and Green initiative, a sum of Rs6.3 billion has been assigned and that public-private partnership programmes will be assigned a budget of Rs4 billion.

Another Rs4 billion will be spent on the Quaid-e-Azam industrial estate in Faisalabad.