Balochistan govt unveils Rs 164bn tax-free budget

QUETTA: The Balochistan government on Tuesday unveiled Rs 164.447 billion tax-free budget for fiscal year 2011-12, including Rs 31.241 billion for annual development programmes and foreign assistance programmes of Rs 2.225 billion with a deficit of Rs 6.604 billion.The budget has put greater emphasis on education, public administration and the maintenance of public order.Provincial Finance Minister, Mir Asim Kurd, presented the provincial budget in a session of the Balochistan Assembly, which was attended by all the MPAs and ministers of the province.The non-development expenditure had jumped by Rs 21 billion from Rs 112.7 billion during the current fiscal year, as the government will spend Rs 133.2 billion during the next fiscal year.The main reason for this is more spending on general or public administration and public order, increasing the salaries and benefits of police, Balochistan Levies and the Balochistan Constabulary. The main idea is to increase the working and efficiency of the provincial law enforcement agencies to an acceptable level so that the province could depend more on the civil armed forces for maintenance of public order.

The province had spent more on development during the current fiscal year compared to the proposed development expenditure in the next year. The amount allocated in the current budget was Rs 34.6 billion against Rs 31.2 billion during the next year.Balochistan had received Rs 11 billion more for the next fiscal year and the increased revenue mostly came from income tax and sales tax on services. However, there was a nominal decline in revenue from natural gas of which Balochistan’s share was also falling at the national level.The provincial government had given greater emphasis on economic services, mainly agriculture, livestock and industries on which it proposed to spend around Rs 18.3 billion.

The government had already divided the Secondary and Higher Education Department and allocated Rs 19.2 billion for it, improving the network of schools, colleges and other institutions. Under the devolution programme, the universities in Balochistan had been handed over to the provincial government and it, following the change and devolution, earmarked Rs 500 million for the universities. Presumably, the formal take over will take place from July 2012 when the varsities will come under administrative control of the provincial government. The Balochistan chief minister will be the chancellor of all the six Universities in Balochistan. It is likely that for this reason, a large amount of Rs 19.2 billion had been allocated to educational services.

With the abolition of the old local government system of former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf, the Balochistan government had made no allocation of funds for the local councils in the next budget. During the current fiscal year, the provincial government spent Rs 4 billion on local councils, as it was imposed by the military dictator against the will of the provinces. – Dailytimes