LAHORE: The Maryam Nawaz Sharif-led Punjab government presented its inaugural budget on Thursday, unveiling a historic annual development plan (ADP) totalling Rs842 billion.

This figure includes a foreign aid component of Rs106.167bn and is 28 per cent higher than the previous year’s Rs655bn.

In his budget speech, Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja highlighted that 100pc cash cover is available for the ADP, reflecting the government’s “revolutionary” five-year priorities. The ADP allocates 33pc to the social sector, 29pc to infrastructure, 13pc to production, and 5pc to the services sector, whereas 20pc has been earmarked for special initiatives and other programmes.

A sum of Rs394.4bn, almost half of the total ADP, has been allocated for ongoing schemes and Rs404.41bn for new projects.

Another significant feature of the ADP is that almost all sectors include chief minister’s special initiatives like Rs45bn for the agriculture sector, Rs20bn for urban development, Rs9bn for primary healthcare, Rs8.5bn for roads, Rs4bn for Roshan gharana (solar scheme), Rs4bn for sports and youth affairs, Rs5.2bn for fisheries, Rs7bn for livestock, and Rs5bn for tourism (Murree development, etc).

Almost half of ADP allocated for ongoing schemes

The social sector receives Rs280bn, including Rs45bn in foreign aid. Of this, education is allocated Rs65.5bn, with Rs45bn for school education, Rs15bn for higher education, and Rs6bn for special and non-formal education. A new scheme, the CM’s school meal plan, receives Rs500 million.

The health sector is allocated Rs128.6bn, 11pc more than the previous year, with Rs86bn for specialised healthcare and Rs42bn for primary and secondary health.

Water supply and sanitation has been given Rs8bn, social welfare Rs4bn, women development Rs1.4bn, and local government Rs61.57bn.

For infrastructure development, a total of Rs246.8bn, including a foreign component of Rs18.51bn, has been put aside. Of these funds, over Rs84.8bn will go to new schemes including rehabilitation of 684km long roads. Major road projects are Muzaffargarh-Tarinda Muhammad Panah (Rs31.48bn), Multan-Vehari (Rs13bn), and Burewala-Vehari (Rs12bn).

The irrigation department gets Rs25.8bn, of which Rs9.2bn is foreign aid, mostly for the ongoing water channel improvement schemes.

At least Rs30bn has been apportioned to restore public buildings and Rs40.5bn for urban development, including a foreign component of Rs9.15bn, while only Rs7.5bn has been given to the energy sector.

Total allocation for the production sectors — agriculture, forestry, wildlife, fisheries, food, livestock, industries and commerce/investment, mines and minerals, and tourism — is Rs107.85bn, including Rs13.46bn foreign aid.

The agriculture sector gets Rs64.6bn, including Rs11.8bn foreign aid. A major share (Rs45.25bn) goes to the CM’s initiative, mainly for the Kisan Card package under which 0.5m farmers will be given interest-free loans worth Rs75bn.

Tractors worth Rs30bn will be distributed among the farmers on easy instalments, 7,000 tube-wells will be converted to solar technology at a cost of Rs9bn.

An amount of Rs15.85bn has been specified for on-farm water management and Rs2.65bn for the agriculture transformation plan. A meagre sum of Rs304m has been allocated for agriculture research, Rs294.6m for agriculture education, Rs99m for soil survey, Rs91m for pest warning and quality control, and Rs50m for district development package.

Forestry department’s schemes will get Rs4bn, fisheries Rs6.4bn, wildlife Rs5.3bn, livestock Rs9bn, industries and commerce Rs10.7bn, while various schemes of tourism have claimed Rs6.5bn.

The services sector is allocated Rs41bn, including Rs5.9 bn in foreign aid. Key allocations include Rs20.7 bn for governance and IT, Rs18.5 bn for transport, and Rs1.4 bn for emergency services (1122).

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2024

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