LAHORE - Provincial Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha has said the Punjab will prepare the budged based on old National Finance Commission (NFC), as Islamabad is not holding any further inter-provincial meeting for next NFC award before the budget. She expressed these remarks while addressing a pre-budget seminar on Monday. The seminar was organised by Lahore Economic Journalists Association (LEJA). LEJA President Zahid Abid, Vice President Ashraf Mehtab, General Secretary Shahram Haq and other members were also present at the occasion.

Dr Ayesha said that the Punjab has a loins share, as it has around 57 percent share in national GDP; however, lack of coordination between provincial and federal departments is affecting provincial tax to GDP ratio. She said that recent property taxes in federal budget 2016-17 have also affected provincial revenues as people tend to find alternate measures.

She said that unfortunately tax culture is missing in Pakistan. Despite an increase in the country tax net and 42pc increase in Punjab Revenue Authority’s tax collections, a lot of ground has yet to be covered by federal as well as provincial tax collecting agencies. She said that the impression that bureaucracy alone prepares the budget is not right, as the government conveys priorities and directions of budget which reflects almost all parts of life. She said that Punjab’s debt is not at an alarming point. Normally 5-6pc of Provincial GRP is not as alarming as predicted, however currently Punjab’s total debt is in-between 3-3.5pc of its revenues.

She said that the Punjab government will announce a people-friendly budget this year, in which social sectors will be the top priority in terms of resource allocations. She said the government is focusing more on provision of health and education for the last few years, and it will continue to allocate more on social sector in upcoming provisional budget thereby providing access to education, teachers’ trainings and converting government schools on solar energy.