As the current fiscal year almost comes to an end, the budget for FY21-22 has been unveiled in all four provinces as well as the Centre.

But what is each government offering its population through the finance bill? Here is a comparative breakdown of the four provincial budgets and the federal budget across five categories: health, education, development, minimum wage, and rate of increase in government employees’ salaries and pensions.   

Health 

This year Punjab saw a hefty increase of nearly 30 per cent increase in its health budget. The finance minister for Punjab said the government has allocated a total of Rs370bn for health, including Rs96bn for the development in the health sector. 

The Punjab government further earmarked Rs80million under the universal health insurance programme for the 110 million population of the province. 

The budget for Sindh shows that health remains a priority for the PPP government in the province. The total non-development budget for the sector – excluding medical education – has been enhanced by 29 per cent from Rs132bn to Rs172bn.

The Sindh chief minister said an amount of Rs17.4bn had been set aside as a ‘health risk allowance’ for all health professionals. The move comes after Pakistan has seen three waves of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the increased importance of healthcare workers in managing and mitigating the devastating effects of the virus. 

Similarly, the health expenditures for Balochistan have been increased to Rs38.5bn as compared to the current year’s Rs31.4bn. Whereas an additional sum of Rs3.6bn has been set aside for combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

For Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government has allocated a hefty amount of Rs142bn for the health sector in the fiscal year 2021-22 as compared to the last budgetary allocation of Rs124bn in the fiscal year 2020-21.

Lastly, the federal government has allocated Rs21.72bn to 20 ongoing and 26 new projects in the health sector under the Public Sector Development Programme 2021-22.

The budget documents showed that out of the total allocated amount, Rs13.07bn has been allocated to out-going projects while Rs8.65bn has been earmarked for new projects.

A further breakdown of the amount showed Rs5.6bn has been earmarked for the Sehat Sahulat Programme and Prime Minister’s National Health Insurance Programme phase-II.

Education

The Punjab government has allocated almost Rs442bn for the education sector of the province for the new fiscal year of which over Rs54bn will be spent under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2021-2022.

The Punjab government had allocated Rs391bn for the education sector for the fiscal year 2020-21.

For the education sector in Sindh, a total of Rs272bn has been allocated for the next fiscal year as compared to Rs243bn in the current fiscal year. This shows a 14 per cent increase. However, in the education sector, Rs26bn have separately been kept for development schemes.

These funds include Rs14bn for school education, Rs4b for college education, Rs800m for the empowerment of persons with disabilities, Rs1200 million for Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Authority (Stetva) and Rs6b for universities and boards.

Besides funds in the provincial ADP, the government has earmarked Rs4.28bn for foreign project assistance for the education sector. For the next year, the government has proposed a total allocation of Rs82bn for local bodies.

For Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs230 million allocated for education scholarship for merged areas in the Higher Education Department and Rs100million administrative budget for the supply of furniture and other necessary items and 300 colleges would be given premier status and construction of ongoing 40 colleges would be completed.

In elementary and secondary education, 10,000 model schools would be constructed under the early childhood education program in KP and Rs4.5bn to be spent on supply of furniture to government’s schools, 97 IT laboratories equipped with IT equipment, 276 science laboratories would be constructed while 4,300 school teachers to be recruited in merged areas.

Similarly, 20,000 school teachers and 30,000 school leaders would be appointed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that 21,000 schools would be constructed, rehabilitated and up-graded that would create enrollment space for 120,000 students.

KP Finance Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra said that the allocated fund of one billion rupees would also be utilized to establish girls cadet college at Mardan, whereas, Rs30 million allocated for imparting professional education to minority community members. 

For Balochistan, the budget for the next financial year is likely to allocate Rs90bn for education, which is 17 per cent of the total budget for the province. For higher education, Rs11.783bn has been earmarked for the non-developmental sector, Rs9.107bn for the overall development of the education sector. 

Finally, the federal government has allocated Rs66bn to the Higher Education Commission for education programmes, and Rs44bn will go towards the education sector under the development fund.

Development

Punjab’s Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year will be worth Rs337bn. The allocation saw an increase of 9.42 per cent from Rs308bn last year, for the fiscal year 2020-21 with a focus on economic stimulus in the backdrop of Covid-19.

The ADP 2020-21 has been designed to counter the education and health crisis and other challenges faced by the economy of the province. Livelihood security through social protection schemes; investments to fill health infrastructure gaps and ensure food security; education and human capital development along with support to the MSME sector are all priority areas.

Sindh’s ADP for the upcoming year will be Rs329bn as compared to last year’s Rs.170bn, whereas, the KP government announced an allocation of Rs318bn for FY21-22.

The Balochistan government allocated a Rs237.221bn development budget under Public Sector Development Programme including Rs16.661bn Foreign Fund Projects Assistance (FPA). Under the development budget, Rs112.545bn would be spent on about 1525 ongoing schemes whereas Rs76.651bn had been earmarked for 2286 new projects.

Lastly, the Rs8.48 trillion federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 (FY22) has allocated Rs2,135bn under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) – an increase of 37 per cent from last year’s development allocations.

Minimum Wage

The Punjab government has increased the minimum monthly wage of workers by Rs2,000. It has been increased from Rs17,500 to Rs19,500 while the minimum daily wage has been fixed at Rs750. Meanwhile, the Sindh government set the minimum wage at Rs25,000 ahead of the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22. 

KP’s minimum wage has been set at Rs21,000 per month for labourers, as opposed to the previous figure of  Rs17,500. Whereas, Balochistan maintained its minimum wage of Rs17,500.

The centre increased the minimum wage to Rs20,000.

Government employees’ salaries and pension

In the provincial budget 2021-22, the Punjab government has presented to provide a 10 per cent increment in provincial employees salaries and pensions, the same as the federal government. 

Sindh and Balochistan have given their employees a 20 per cent and a 15 per cent increment respectively. 

The KP government gave the highest increase; the salaries of all government employees except those who didn’t get special allowances are being increased to 37 per cent, including a 20 per cent increase in Functional or Sectoral Allowance, 10 per cent increase in Adhoc Relief Allowance, 7 per cent in house rent for those employees who don’t benefit from government’s accommodation scheme.

KP finance minister said a 100 per cent increase in pension expenditure has been witnessed in the last couple of years and the share of pensions, which was only 1 per cent in 2003-04 had jumped to a record 13.8 per cent of the total budget in 2021-22.

To overcome pension expenses, he said two proposals — an increase in the upper age limit of government employees, i.e., 55 years for early retirement or completion of 25 years service — were under consideration that would save Rs12bn per year.

The author works as a sub-editor at The Correspondent, focusing on Student Politics, Social issues and International Relations.

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