no comments

Next budget to have bigger outlay, says minister

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Muzafar Said on Thursday said the size of the upcoming provincial budget would be bigger than the current’s.

Following a pre-budget seminar at the Civil Secretariat’s Cabinet Room, Mr. Said told reporters that the volume of the ongoing fiscal’s budget was Rs487 billion and the next year’s would be even bigger than that.

He, however, didn’t come clear on how the province is going to fund such a massive budget when it faces a severe financial crunch valuing billions of rupees.

Strategy paper suggests otherwise

Interestingly, the Budget Strategy Paper-II prepared by the finance department of late proposed a total outlay of Rs408.646 billion for the upcoming budget for 2016-17. According to BSP-II, the upcoming budget’s volume will be Rs79.238 billion less than that of the current budget.

The finance minister said the government was gearing to increase the province’s own revenue generation and that special attention would be paid to the health, education, energy and power sectors in the next budget.

He said the federal government had yet to meet the financial transactions it made to the province and had to pay around Rs50 billion in lieu of liabilities for the current year.

Muzafar Said however said the federal government had made some payments, while others were in the pipeline.

He said the centre should fulfil its duties towards the province as it was doing in the case of Punjab.

The minister said militancy, floods and earthquakes had badly damaged the province’s infrastructure and therefore, the federal government should increase the one per cent of the divisible pool, which the province was getting in lieu of its losses in the war on terrorism.

He said the government would create around 25,000 jobs in the upcoming budget besides making attempts to control energy crisis. Muzafar Said said the provincial government looked towards the federal government in this regard.

Finance secretary Ali Raza Bhutta denied making any cuts to the province’s Annual Development Programme and said it’s the provincial and district components, which totaled around Rs142 billion, were intact.

However, a Planning and Development letter issued on April 25 available with Dawn shows that the 2015-16 ADP allocations has been resized to Rs113 billion from Rs142 billion.

The document says the provincial portion has come down to Rs97.775 billion, while the district share will be around Rs15.224 billion.

The secretary said around 50 per cent of the provincial ADP or Rs70 billion had been spent until two weeks ago and that its total utilisation was likely to be around 80-84 per cent.

He claimed the province’s budget could not be a deficit budget.

Ali Raza Bhutta said the province’s share in the federal tax assignment stood at around Rs250 billion of which around Rs190 billion had so far been paid to the province.

He said the province was to get Rs30 billion in lieu of one per cent levy for the war on terrorism of which around Rs22 billion had been paid, while Rs16 billion had been received in lieu of straight transfers from the federal government out of a total of Rs19 billion.

The secretary said recently, the government representatives held meetings with the Federal Board of Revenue officials, who said the province would get the remaining portion of its federal tax assignment.

He said the province was to get Rs. 25 billion in lieu of arrears of net hydel profit during the ongoing year in line with the memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year.

Ali Raza Bhutta said the province had yet to get that amount of money from the centre.

“We met the federal authorities on Tuesday, so the amount is likely to be released very soon,” he said.