LAHORE: The caretaker Punjab government is all set to present its second four-month budget of the ongoing financial year 2023-24 before the cabinet, led by Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, on Monday (today).

Earlier in June, the caretaker government had presented its first four-month — July-October — budget to the tune of Rs1.72 trillion after having spent the remaining six months’ budget (Jan­uary-June 2023) approved by the previous PTI government for FY23.

This budget, which is expiring on October 31 (tomo­rrow), had raised many eyebrows because its document did not provide any details about the money to be spent in the run-up to the elections, which were originally expected in October.

The first four-month budget also triggered widespread speculation that it might allocate funds for development projects and subsidies based on PML-N’s political agenda.

Since it is generally unprecedented for a caretaker government to present its second four-month (120 days) budget, the Punjab government sought clarification from the provincial law department to avoid legal issues.

Eventually, the advo­cate general informed the caretaker Punjab government that a precedent of a second budget by a caretaker government was available and ratified by the Supreme Court.

This happened when the caretaker government, following the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was allowed to present its second four-month budget in 2008.

Sources claim the caretaker Punjab government has prepared a budget of some Rs2.12tr, with a breakdown of Rs1.8tr for non-development expenditures and Rs320 billion for the development budget for the ongoing development schemes.

The non-development budget has been allocated for administrative, rout­ine, and operational expe­nditures, which include the salaries of the Punjab government employees.

The Planning and Deve­lopment Board, Punjab, has reportedly prepared a budget of around Rs320bn for some 4,900 development schemes currently under execution in the pro­vince. The funds have been allocated for 120 days, beginning from Nov 1.

The P&D Board has not allocated any funds for any new development scheme, as per the instructions of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2023

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