LAHORE, Jun 19 (APP):Caretaker Punjab government Monday presented Rs 1719.3 billion budget for first four months of Financial Year 2023-24 as per its mandate under Article 126 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which says that the caretaker government may be authorised expenditures for a period not exceeding four months.
Caretaker Provincial Information Minister Amir Mir and Caretaker Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce SM Tanveer shared the main features of the four-month provincial budget with the media here at Civil Secretariat.
Amir Mir said, “Today, the caretaker cabinet of Punjab has approved the government expenditure and revenue for four months under Article 126 of the Constitution.” He said that total outlay of the budget would be Rs 1719.3 billion for four months from July to October, 2023. He explained that Punjab would receive Rs 881 billion tax receipts from federal government and its own contribution would be Rs 194 billion, while no new taxes have been imposed for the above mentioned period of next financial year.
Development expenditures allocations stand at Rs 325 billion, he said and added that 4800 projects were in progress in the province, out of which 2500 projects would be completed in the next four months.
Amir Mir said that Education and Health sectors would be given Rs 195.1 billion and Rs 183.7 billion, respectively, adding that budget for both the sectors had been increased by 31 per cent.
For the first time in the history of Punjab, he mentioned, a Journalist Endowment Fund amounting to Rs 1 billion had been established that would definitely ensure well-being of the journalist community across the province.
The caretaker information minister said that an amount of Rs 721 billion would be spent on salaries and pensions. There would be a 30 per cent ad hoc relief allowance on basic salary of the government employees, and a five per cent increase in pension, while pensioners above 80 years of age would be given 20 per cent increase in their pension, he added.
He said that the Punjab government owed Rs 600 billion to various banks on account of wheat procurement and Rs 250 million mark-up was being paid daily in this regard. This debt could go up to Rs 1100 billion by end of 2023 and Rs 2000 billion by end of 2025, therefore, the caretaker chief minister had started the process of paying off the debt of Rs 600 billion with the approval of the cabinet and it would be paid in next four months.
Caretaker Provincial Industries Minister SM Tanveer said the budget was people-friendly and no new taxes had been imposed. Punjab abolished sales tax on Information Technology (IT) related businesses, and this would definitely lead to a boom in IT sector and enhance its exports. It has also been decided to build IT Parks in the Lahore Knowledge Park, and Rs 10 billion has been allocated for the IT sector for four months.
He said that Rs 70 billion has been earmarked for targeted social protection to provide relief to the poor people.
SM Tanveer said that Rs 47.6 billion would be spent on agriculture initiatives and capital investment in energy sector would be Rs 16.4 billion during next four months. Punjab Thermal Power (Private) Limited (PTPL), incorporated under the Companies Act, 2017 would be completed and Rs 17 billion set aside to operationalise the power plants which were closed down in 2017.
Service Delivery expenditure would be Rs 120.4 billion, while proposal of increasing stamp duty to 3 per cent rejected and it would be maintained at one percent to promote construction sector, he said.
Responding to reporters’ queries, the minister said that from the day of retirement, government employees would be paid 65 percent of their salary for one year so that they did not have to wait for pension because it took almost a year to complete all the paper work. This would be a huge relief for the retiring employees, he remarked.
He said that minimum wage would be kept equal to that of the federal government. The employees were drawing higher salaries compared to the federal government that was why pension increased at five per cent.
To a question, Amir Mir said that the caretaker government was formed by the Election Commission and the government was ready to hold election as soon the Election Commission issues the election schedule.