The PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) has announced the provincial budget for the coming year, and the first noticeable thing about it is that it has actually decreased its Annual Development Programme (ADP) by 8 percent in favour of allocating more to its current expenditure. Opposition would have people believe that this would go against PTI’s mantra of improving human development, but that does not seem to be the case at all. Bear in mind that KPK is the country’s third-most populated province, which means that the allocations would have to be below those set by both Sindh and Punjab. But, interestingly, this is not true. The education sector gets a whopping Rs111bn, which is 38 billion higher than Punjab. Health gets 38.4 billion, which is almost 8 percent of the entire province’s total budget. Contrast that to Punjab once more, where the health sector receives only 8 percent of the ADP and not the entire budget, and one can surmise that KPK has not reneged on promises made.

But there are problems too. The KPK government’s suggestion of this being a balanced budget is not too off the mark if you consider the attempts to focus on development of the province, something which both Punjab and Sindh have not prioritised as much on. But in economic and accounting terms, having a budget that balances the books does not mean that the situation is going to remain as rosy as the year progresses. Last year, experts castigated the provincial government for its unrealistic revenue estimates after KPK faced a shortfall of Rs56.64bn, which was almost 12 percent of their entire budget. This year too, the government has earmarked almost 50 billion as revenue generated from tax receipts. And while no taxes have been added in, the value of tax receipts has inexplicably been increased, even though the government fell way short of the targets it set for itself for tax collection last year. It can be easy to allocate money one does not have on projects that will make lives better for the people of KPK, but it is another thing entirely to scrounge for funds when the time comes to pay.

Perhaps the most laudable aspect of the whole budget though, is the money earmarked for development projects for transgenders. Looking to help the marginalised is something most governments have ignored, which is why 200 million put aside for the community will go a long way in empowering it.