LAHORE - Provincial Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, while terming the Punjab budget 2013-14 as balanced, pro-poor and growth-oriented, has said that effective measures have been taken to bring affluent classes into tax net to broaden the base of levies. He said that the newly-introduced capital gains tax will collect up to Rs200 billion while collection of Rs60.35 billion is estimated under GST on services.

Addressing a post-budget conference here at CM Secretariat, flanked by provincial minister Rana Sana Ullah and finance secretary Tariq Bajwa, the finance minister said the new tax on sale and purchase of property has been levied to control artificial hike in property rates, as property dealers escalate rates of plots on speculations.

“New measures have also been introduced to ensure collection of agri income tax, however tax ratio has not been enhanced. It is hoped the government will achieve target of Rs2 billion revenue target.”

He said that record development programs and huge funds for the uplift of less-developed areas of the province would help curtail unemployment on the one hand while attract the foreign investment on the other.

He said that austerity measures like bringing down Chief Minister office’s expenditures by up to 30%, abolition of discretion funds of provincial ministers and purchase on vehicles for Punjab government would remove burden on the provincial exchequer and enhance government revenue.

He said that Rs20.43 billion were allocated to generate power at provincial level from hydel, solar, wind and bio-gas, showing 50pc raise as compared to last year’s allocation of Rs10 billion for energy sector which was later diverted to other schemes.  CM house budget has also been cut by 30 per cent while other depts non-salary expenses have been reduced by 15pc.

To a question, finance secretary Tariq Bajwa said that Punjab has followed the policy of centre by raising salaries of public servants by 10 per cent while other provinces have violated the policy of federal government, which has never occurred in the history of Pakistan. 

Finance Minister said that the budget focus on energy projects is enough to make the point the Punjab government wants revival of economic activities in the province. He said decision to enhance power generation through hydel, coal & solar resources through public-private partnership would not only help ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to the industry and masses but would also give a boost to the economic activities in the province.

“Agriculture, education and health are major fields and Punjab government has focused on these important sectors. And if improvement plan is implemented in true spirit the province will become a role model,” minister observed. He said that special focus on education sector shows the commitment of Chief Minister Punjab with the people of Punjab. He said that allocation of sufficient funds for establishment of more Danish Schools would certainly help poor.

Of Rs290 billion ADP, Rs240 billion will be spent on annual plans while Rs50 billion will go to other uplift projects. The 2013-14 ADP allocation has been increased by 16 per cent from ADP of 2012-13 and if compared with amended ADP of 2012-13 it is escalated by Rs114 billion for upcoming budget.

The details include Rs90.79 billion for social sector, Rs90.71 billion for infrastructure, Rs11.9 billion for productive fields, Rs13.55 billion for services, Rs9 billion for miscellaneous, Rs24.84 billion for special programmes and Rs50 billion for uplift priorities. The current expenditures for 2013-14 is expected at about Rs607.56 billion, up by 10 per cent from the concluding year of amended current expenditures. Detail of current expenditure includes Rs239 billion for local bodies, Rs94 billion for public order and safety, Rs101 billion for general administration, Rs75 billion for pension and salaries and Rs36 billion for subsidies.

The provincial govt allocated around 4 per cent of total budget to Rs40.5 billion for education while Rs44.63 billion has been set for health- about 5pc of the budget.

He said that on demand of public, more Rapid Bus Service schemes will be launched in Lahore while the service will also be started in Multan, Pindi and Faisalabad, with no mentioning of allocations in budget speech.

Rs93 billion, which is 32pc of total budget, has been allocated for South Punjab while Rs10 billion has been earmarked to upgrade necessary infrastructure of Multan, Pindi and Gujranwala to the level of big cities. Rs7.5 billion is earmarked for solar tubewells and Rs5.5 for agriculture while Rs22 billion will go for irrigation.