LAHORE - The Punjab government on Friday presented budget for fiscal 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs1.044 trillion, which is significantly higher as compared to Rs897.57 billion budget of concluding year.

Current expenditures are estimated at Rs 699.95 billion in the budget presented by the government being headed by Shahbaz Sharif for the last seven years. The provincial government has set the tax collection target of Rs164.7 billion, which is 30 percent higher than the outgoing financial year.

Under the General Revenue Receipts of Rs1.033 trillion, the provincial government would receive Rs804.19 billion from the divisible pool of the federal government, while the provincial tax and non-tax revenues have been estimated at Rs228.87 billion in the next fiscal year.

Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman presented the budget in the session chaired by Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Mohammad Iqbal. He proposed luxury token tax on 1600CC vehicles, besides announcing tax on homes of over two kanals (this proposal was part of previous budget too but it could not be implemented).

Opposition members, excluding the PPP, gathered in front of the speaker’s dice and raised slogans against Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his govt throughout the budget speech. They also tore apart the copies of budget speech and cast them in the air.

The finance minister announced 10 percent raise in pay and pension of public sector employees in line with the federal govt’s raise. However, betraying the pre-election commitment of raising minimum salary to Rs15,000, the minister did not mention the minimum monthly wage for the upcoming fiscal year.

Apparently, the budget focuses on development of southern Punjab, as Rs119 billion or 36 percent of the total budget has been proposed for the development of this backward area, showing an increase of Rs26 billion from the allocation of Rs93 billion made during last budget which was 32pc of total budget.

As no budgetary allocation has been separately mentioned for the development expenditures on big cities, including the provincial capital of Lahore, Rs119 billion is the biggest allocation among all development expenditures. The budget's current expenditures are estimated at about Rs700 billion.

The Annual Development Programme (ADP) is Rs 345 billion against the ADP of Rs290 billion allocated in last budget. It has allocations for Social Sector Rs96.3 billion; Communication and Infrastructure Rs137.53 billion; Production Rs20.72 billion; Services sector Rs9.49 billion; miscellaneous Rs8.20 billion; special programmes Rs18.1 billion and a sum of Rs 55 billion for other developmental priorities and special programmes.

The property tax on urban land has been cut from 20 percent to 5 percent while stamp duty has been raised from 2 percent to 3 percent with estimated revenue collection of Rs1 billion. The govt proposed to remove bed tax from hotels and announced to impose 16 percent overall provincial sales tax on hotels.

Mujtaba announced that 36% of the total budget of the province has been allocated for the development of southern Punjab. Rs81.68 billion has been allocated to Police, which is 16% higher than the last year’s. Rs5 billion have been put aside for curbing terrorism. Other major allocations include Rs31 billion for energy sector, Rs6 billion for technical education and Rs1.47 billion for mineral exploration.

The Punjab’s overall outlay for education is Rs273 billion including Rs65 billion from provincial government, Rs2 billion for Danish Schools, Rs7 billion for PEF, Rs48 billion for educational development projects, Rs28 billion for schools, Rs14 billion for higher education and Rs3 billion for special education.

Rs121.8 billion have been estimated from provincial as well as district governments heads for health. The provincial government will spend Rs86.88 billion for health sector in the budget 2014-15, the minister stated. Over Rs47.44 billion will be spent on the provision of general hospital services while over Rs5.95 billion for special hospital services including mental hospital matters.

Rs8 billion will go for medicines and Rs4 billion for the new initiative of health insurance for the poor. Some budgetary allocations would also be used for administration, laboratory examinations and medical education including medical universities and colleges affairs. Rs1.5 billion have been allocated for family planning.

For agriculture and welfare of the growers around Rs15 billion have been allocated while Rs5 billion will be spent to subsidise fertilisers. The govt announced to convert agri tubewells with an estimated cost of Rs1.87 billion in the upcoming financial year though the provincial government has not implemented the scheme of installing solar tubewells announced during last budget.

The PML-N govt, which has been talking high of building small dams for the last six years, has put aside only Rs2 billion for small dams on canals while Rs50.8 billion have been allocated for irrigation and Rs6 billion for Khanki barrage. Livestock would get Rs8.93 billion, communication Rs39 billion, environment and wildlife Rs2 billion.

Ramazan package subsidy to control inflation has not been enhanced as Rs5 billion has been set aside for it. Same amount was fixed last year for this purpose.

The govt will continue yellow cab scheme in the upcoming financial year and taxis worth Rs25 billion will be provided to unemployed youth. An amount of Rs5 billion was announced for laptop scheme. However, no green tractor scheme is being extended this year budget.

The minister reiterated that eliminating loadshedding is the government’s priority. He announced that Rs2 billion will be spent on a biomass plant in Bahawalpur, while Rs17 billion have been budgeted for the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park project.

No allocation has been mentioned in the budget for the Lahore Ring Road project, Multan Metro Bus project or Faisalabad Metro Bus project. However, the government with private partnership will construct around 20,000 new homes for labourers in the upcoming fiscal year.  The govt has allocated around Rs6b in the budget 2014-15 to impart technical education to youth with target of producing 2m skilled workforce over the next four years.