LAHORE - The Punjab government has allocated around Rs36 billion for agriculture sector in budget 2017-18.

Last year’s allocation was Rs48b - Rs20b for development projects and Rs28b for non-development schemes - but allocation was revised as Rs34b.

The provincial government spent mere Rs7.3b in year 2016-17 in development of agriculture sector from total allocation and around Rs27b was spent in administrative/salaries and other non-development schemes of the sector which government calls lifeline of province’s economy. The last year’s development budget for the agriculture (Rs7.3b) was termed peanut by the farmers’ unions.

The government, however, claimed that it spent a mighty amount for the welfare of farmers under Chief Minister Kissan Package from last year’s allocation.

The PML-N government increased Rs2b allocation for financial year 2017-18 for the sector as compared to last year’s funds which were Rs34b. The allocation of Rs36.30b, however, could be increased or decreased in revised estimates. From the total allocation, the government planned to spend Rs21b in development schemes and Rs15 billion in non-development schemes.

Agriculture provides to 43.5 per cent of the people of the province. The government claims it always put the sector at priority.

Shehbaz Sharif government said it planned to execute 34 on-going and 25 new schemes during fiscal year 2017-18 and for that it allocated Rs21 billion which includes Rs10 billion for Kissan Package and two billion rupees for PAFDA (Punjab Agriculture Food and Drug Authority Lab) Science Enclave.

The government planned to execute 24 ongoing and 14 new schemes of Forestry Department by allocation of Rs2b. The last year’s allocation was Rs1.5b for 27 ongoing and 13 new schemes.

The government has planned to execute Khadam-e-Punjab Rural Road Project Phase III, strengthening of Forest Service Academy Ghoragali, Muree, improvement and rehabilitation of forests parks in Punjab and rehabilitation of irrigated plantation in central zone, northern and southern zones.

The government made Rs850 million allocation for nine ongoing and five new schemes of fisheries department against Rs568 million budget for year 2016-17 for 11 ongoing and four new schemes.

An allocation of Rs500 million was made to execute four ongoing and four new schemes for food sector for FY 2017-18. The sum of Rs865 million was spent on of nine schemes of department last year, according to budget document.

The government has allocated Rs19.43b for development and non-development schemes of live stock and dairy development department for FY2017-18 against the last fiscal year’s allocation of Rs13.5b which was later revised at Rs15b. From the last year’s budget, the government spent Rs7.2b in development sector and Rs7.8b in non-development schemes. The Punjab government planned to spend Rs9.5b on development projects and Rs9.8b in non-development schemes for 2017-18 budgetary allocation which could be raised or decreased in revised estimates.