The Punjab government on Monday unveiled a Rs2.6 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2021-22. Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht presented it.
The finance minister began his budget speech announcing that the PTI government, despite all difficulties, is raising the development budget with a pace of 86 per cent to Rs560 billion.
A separate allocation of Rs196 billion for Southern Punjab and a Rs370 billion for the health sector.
He said that the provincial government has raised the budget allocation by 13 percent for the education sector since last year, and has allocated Rs442 billion for the construction programme of the sector.
It is pertinent to mention here that the province aims to establish seven new universities in the province and an engineering university in Sialkot city with a budget expenditure of Rs7 billion.
In addition to this, the Minister unveiled an allocation of Rs28 billion for the infrastructural development of mega projects in Lahore.
The mega projects include establishment of a new 1000-bed modern hospital, a surface-water treatment plant, underpasses, and flyover projects.
Bakht announced that all Punjab government employees, as well as pensioners, will get an increment of 10 per cent of their salaries. Moreover, he announced a special 25 per cent allowance for “financially distressed employees”.
Declaring his announcement as “historic”, the Punjab Finance Minister said that the allocation of Rs196 billion has been finalised for development projects in South Punjab, which amounts to about 34 per cent of the province’s Annual Development Programme (ADP).
He went on to say that the funds allocated for South Punjab will not be used anywhere else.
Jawan Bakht said that during the fiscal year 2021-22, the Punjab government will spend over Rs200 billion for the social sector, including health and education sectors, Rs145 billion for infrastructure development, over Rs55 billion for production sectors including agriculture, industry, tourism, wildlife, fisheries and forest.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar Monday chaired a provincial cabinet meeting, which unanimously approved the budget proposals for fiscal year 2021-22 besides the finance bill 2021.
Supplementary budget 2020-21 and revised estimates for the financial year 2020-21 was also approved in the meeting.
The cabinet approved a 10 per cent rise in salaries and pension of the government employees. A proposal to increase agriculture tax was presented in the meeting by the Board of Revenue (BoR).
CM Usman Buzdar rejected the proposal regarding increase in agriculture tax and said that the government would not put any burden on farmers. Buzdar said that farmers were prosperous in the tenure of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
The meeting also gave approval regarding increase in minimum wages of unskilled labourers from Rs 17,500 to 20,000.
Sardar Usman Buzdar lauded the performance of Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht, Advisor Dr Salman Shah, chief secretary, chairman Planning and Development, finance secretary and others, saying that the team had completed the task of budget preparation diligently.
The CM said that for the first time, record increase had been made in the development budget, adding that separate development packages had been prepared for all districts.
He said that priorities had been set in accordance with the needs of the common man, adding that the budget was not jugglery of figures, but a realistic document of balanced public development. He regretted that the opposition made hue and cry during the coronavirus pandemic and left the people alone.