PESHAWAR - PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has presented a balanced, tax-free budget for the fiscal year 2013-14.

Finance Minister Sirajul Haq presented on Monday Rs344 billion budget in the provincial assembly session, which began with Speaker Asad Qaisar in the chair.

The total resources (revenue and non-revenue) and total expenditure both have been estimated at Rs344 billion, making it a balanced budget. No new tax has been imposed.

The government has proposed an increase of 15 percent in the salaries and pension of government employees. The minimum limit of the retired employees pension has been increased from Rs3,000 to Rs5,000, while the minimum wages limit has been increased to Rs10,000.

A handsome amount of Rs118 billion has been allocated for the ADP (annual development programme), showing a 12 percent increase. The ADP covers a total of 983 projects– including 609 ongoing and 374 new development schemes.

Sirajul Haq said that KPK people wanted a change and the allied parties have been voted for a change so this time the government has set aside record Rs66.60 billion for education sector and Rs1.97 billion for promotion of technical education and manpower training. The government has also recommended that the Bacha Khan Rozgar Scheme be replaced with a youth loan scheme.

The minister said that Rs22.80 billion have been earmarked for health sector, Rs23.78 billion for police, Rs3.12 billion for Irrigation, Rs2.91 billion for agriculture, Rs1.27 billion for environment, Rs 4.93 billion for communication and works, Rs0.24 billion for pension and Rs2.50 billion for subsidy on wheat, while Rs11.16 billion have been put aside for debt clearance.

While giving details of the revenue receipts to be obtained during 2013-14, the finance minister said the province would receive Rs198.269 billion from federal taxes, with eight percent increase over the outgoing fiscal year. He said Rs6 billion would be obtained as net hydel profit and Rs25 billion as arrears from the net hydel profit during the year 2013-14. Moreover, the province would receive 24 percent increase in oil and gas royalty which is expected to be about Rs27.495 billion.

Pledging an end to the ‘VIP culture’, the minister announced construction of Rescue 1122 Centres in Swat and Dera Ismail Khan and establishment of a technical university in the province. He also announced establishment of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Authority.

Sirajul Haq said that the minimum wage is being enhanced to Rs10,000 and giving monthly wage below this amount would be considered a punishable offence. He said that welfare budget for the next year is Rs162.96 billion, which is seven percent more than the outgoing fiscal year. Similarly, the Rs118 billion development budget is 17 percent higher than the outgoing budget while the administrative budget of Rs63.3 billion is 14 percent more than the outgoing fiscal year’s budget.

He also announced giving five years extension to exemption on the property tax to the industrial units.

The finance minister said that elimination of poverty, provision of maximum facilities to the poor segment of the society and development of backward districts are three basic priority areas of the present coalition government. He said that coalition government in the province would follow the footprints of Riyasat-i-Madina by establishing free society in the province.

To achieve these goals, he said, the government would establish good governance standards by evolving comprehensive policies in all the sectors, including services, energy, and industry, so that their development could foster economic prosperity. He said they would ensure achievement of the millennium development goals by 2015.

Sirajul Haq said that administrative matters would be made subservient to principles of justice and cost of business would be considerably reduced. He said that establishing simple style of ruling, elimination of luxurious spending, reconstruction of schools on war footings, revival of damaged infrastructure, construction of new hydel power stations to get rid of load shedding, protection of the rights of the labourers, abolition of VIP culture, free treatment of poor patients in the hospitals, protection to worship places f minorities and provision of funds of local bodies elections would be the main priorities of the KPK government.