QUETTA: The Balochistan Assembly has passed a Rs598 billion budget for the next fiscal year without facing any objection from either side of the aisle.
The session, which started one hour and 45 minutes behind schedule, was presided over by Deputy Speaker Sardar Babar Khan Musakhail.
Balochistan Finance Minister Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran presented 102 demands for the draft in the house one by one. Of all, 60 demands for the draft of over Rs351.2bn belonged to non-development expenditure, while 42 demands for the draft of over Rs246.9bn were for the development programme.
Opposition members belonging to BNP-Mengal, JUI-F and PkMAP were present in the house when Sardar Khetran moved the demands for the draft, but none of them submitted any cut motion, which enables assembly members to oppose a specific allocation in budget proposals.
No cut motions presented in house for only second time in province’s history
It was the second time in the Balochistan Assembly that no opposition member submitted a cut motion or opposed the demands for the draft after 1985, when military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq had conducted nationwide elections on a non-party basis and there was no opposition in the provincial assembly.
However, in yesterday’s session, opposition members — who are coalition partners in the nine-party alliance government at the Centre — walked out of the assembly on the issue of power outages but later returned to the house.
Opposition members expressed their satisfaction with the budget presented by Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo-led coalition government in the province and described it as a “balanced document”. They acknowledged that uplift funds were allocated to all districts and no constituency was ignored in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the next financial year.
The treasury benches also welcomed the development budget, which they said was based on the development of the entire province, whereas maximum development schemes identified by MPAs in their constituencies were included in the PSDP.
Balochistan Chief Minister Bizenjo said the budget passed in the assembly was prepared with the vision to develop the entire province, as it belonged to the people of the province and not only the ruling party and its allies.
He said a parliamentary committee of the province would visit Islamabad to resolve power and gas crises and issues pertaining to the development affected by insurgency.
“We will ask Islamabad to bear our burden of the expenditure we are spending on law and order,” Mr Bizenjo said. He said the provincial government would make all efforts to prove the budget “people-friendly” by providing them with maximum relief.
In the development budget, unanimously approved by the house, the government has made the highest allocation of Rs49.69bn for the communication and works sector to construct a road network in the province. Another large amount of Rs48.33bn has been allocated for pension payment.
The provincial government will spend Rs63.44bn on secondary education, while Rs39.64bn has been allocated for federal-funded projects. Another Rs14.9bn has been included in the PSDP for foreign-funded projects.
The provincial government will spend Rs23.99bn on police and Rs14.9bn on Levies Force. The government has allocated Rs18bn for capital investment and will also approve Rs6.81bn for internal trading.
Besides, Rs22.87bn will be spent on public health engineering. The house has also approved Rs23.54bn for improving health sector facilities. The government will also provide Rs18.46bn for the local government in 2022-23.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022