Balochistan prioritises all major sectors in budget: minister

Published June 23, 2024
Balochistan Finance Minister Shoaib Nosherwani along with Minister for Planning Zahoor Ahmed Buledi addresses a post-budget 
press conference.—APP
Balochistan Finance Minister Shoaib Nosherwani along with Minister for Planning Zahoor Ahmed Buledi addresses a post-budget press conference.—APP

QUETTA: Balochistan Minister for Finance Shoaib Nosherwani said on Saturday that the provincial government has presented a balanced budget, accommodated all sectors, and initiated flagship projects aimed at equitable growth across the province.

Addressing a post-budget press conference in Quetta with Planning and Development Minis­ter Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Mr Nosherwani emphasised that the government had prioritised health, education, irrigation, climate change, and law and order.

Mr Nosherwani dismissed claims that Rs99 billion in development funds were lost due to non-utilisation. “These funds were never auth­orised or released,” he clarified.

He said delays in project completion and legal disputes had hindered the release of these funds. “The funds remain intact in provincial accounts and will be utilised in the 2024-25 fiscal year for ongoing development schemes,” he assured.

Nosherwani claims projects are aimed at equitable growth across province

Secretary Finance Babar Khan, Additional Chief Secretary Planning and Development Hafiz Abdul Basit, and government spokesperson Shahid Rind also atten­ded the press conference.

Providing details on the provincial annual development program­­me, Planning Minister Buledi noted that the incumbent provincial government, in view of economic challenges and financial difficulties, had reviewed the provincial development programme during the current fiscal year, which included 9,788 schemes — 5,068 new and 4,720 ongoing ones — with a total proposed cost of Rs229.3bn.

However, budget pressures reduced the cost of proposed projects to Rs125.9bn. Despite this, he said, 2,172 schemes were successfully completed this year.

For the next financial year, the development budget had been proposed at Rs219.5bn, covering 3,976 ongoing and 2,704 new projects, Mr Buledi said. He highlighted that these schemes would benefit all 36 districts of Balochistan. Tendering for these projects will begin in the first week of July.

Mr Nosherwani said that a huge part of provincial income consists of federal transfers, and provincial receipts are the main part of their economic resources, which include divisible pool and direct transfer as formula decided under NFC. He said the total provincial budget for the next fiscal year is Rs955.6bn, in which the total share of federal transfer is Rs726.6bn and the total share of provincial revenues is Rs124.4bn. The contribution of foreign project assistance is Rs17.9bn.  .

Mr Buledi said the provincial government had presented a Rs25bn surplus budget, prepared a comprehensive, balanced public sector development programme and minimised the expenditures. He said in the next year’s PSDP, 64 per cent of the amount had been allocated for ongoing schemes and the remaining 36pc for new projects.

The government had increased the allocation of the Balochistan Educational Endowment Fund by Rs2bn and provided scholarships to 75,000 students so far and Rs2bn had been allocated for out-of-school children, he said. Mr Buledi said the government had allocated Rs2.3bn for the second phase of the green tractors scheme and Rs10bn for the green Balochistan initiative.

Secretary Finance Ba­­bar Khan stated that salary increases for 319,000 provincial employees would impact the budget by Rs27bn to Rs29bn annually.

Mr Rind announced Rs1bn for expanding and launching the people’s bus service in Quetta and Turbat. Plans are also in place to make Quetta’s three maj­or hospitals semi-autonomous, establish a liver disease hospital in Nasir­abad, and upgrade a heart disease hospital in Quetta. Mr Rind added that the budget includes funds for burn units in 14 districts and rescue operations in 10 districts.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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