Balochistan budget

Published June 23, 2024

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s largest but least populous province. Most of these promises, if not all, will not be met by the end of the fiscal year — just like in previous years. The first budget of the new PPP-led government in the conflict-ridden province reflects the lack of effort to impose fiscal discipline or reform the provincial development expenditure in spite of a growing throw-forward of incomplete schemes. That the budget envisages spending a major portion of the development funds of Rs321bn set aside for next year on more than 2,700 new schemes, instead of completing ongoing projects to slash the burden of development throw-forward, speaks volumes about how every government in the province misuses the taxpayers’ money to keep the lawmakers on their side. Yet when the chips are down, there is no stopping the defections. The story is repeated in Balochistan every few years.

Indeed, public trust in the province’s political leadership has consistently faltered on account of poor governance, patchy development and rampant financial corruption. With nearly 60pc of Balochistan’s population living below the poverty line and a widening trust deficit between the people and rulers, it is not surprising to see rising political disaffection and growing militancy across the province. Balochistan’s worsening law and order demands that the provincial authorities improve political and financial governance, beginning with major development budget reforms, to narrow the trust gap. This will not happen overnight. However, the present government could take the first step by formulating a longer-term development strategy to help it allocate resources in a transparent manner for the targeted geographical areas, sectors and schemes. Implementing such a strategy will ensure that the fruits of development reach people across Balochistan through the efficient use of whatever meagre financial resources the province has at its disposal.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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