The Punjab and Khyber Pakhroonkhwa Finance Ministers, and the Sindh Chief Minister, presented the 2013-4 Budgets for their respective provinces. It so happens that these Budgets, presented in Budget speeches to respective assemblies, were the respective responsibilities of the three parties that had come to office in the provinces. The Punjab Budget was presented by a member of the PML-N, the KP Budget by a Jamaat-e-Islami member of the coalition headed by the PTI, and the Sindh Budget by the PPP provincial president. Despite this wide variety of party affiliation, all three followed the post-Budget example of the federal government in giving a raise to their employees, though Sindh and KP broke with tradition by varying the increase, the former allowing a 15 percent increase for employees below Grade 16, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa for all. While the Punjab government, out of opposition at the Centre for the first time in five years, seems determined to reinforce success by allocating further large sums to the Ashiyana, laptop and Danish school schemes started in its opposition years, it also allocated Rs 20.43 billion to power schemes, from hydel, solar, wind and biogas. Such schemes did not receive even token funding from other provinces, though KP announced the imposition of an energy emergency to accompany the education emergency it had announced, along with record education spending of Rs 66.60 billion in a total budget of Rs 344 billion, including a development component of Rs 118 billion. KP also announced the setting up of a provincial Revenue Authority, and none of the Budgets included a decision on levying an agricultural income tax, with only Punjab taking measures to improve collection of the tax already imposed, which is actually just a land revenue tax. Sindh did not even do this, though of all the three provinces, it was most determined to obtain more revenue, as shown by its taxation measures.One of the burdens that all provincial budgets had to bear was that of the war on terror. This was shown in the continued escalation of the spending on law and order, even though the declining trend in policing in all provinces, including the three unveiling their 2013-14 Budgets, has been marked. Even the PTI, which came to office on the campaign platform of ending this unrest, has apparently done nothing to change this. If there was a single sign that this budget were prepared by bureaucrats, it came from what seemed like a reluctance to change the status quo. After a federal budget which seemed more like something prepared with the IMF in view rather than the people of Pakistan, the three provincial budgets did nothing that might upset the donor agencies. An element that needs to be kept in view is that all budgets were presented towards the end of the current National Finance Commission Award. It is perhaps reassuring that there has been none of the usual pre-Award posturing by the provinces, which previously had found expression in the Budget speeches, though that is something that will probably be visible only when the new NFC is duly set up.The provinces are at the cutting edge of providing services to the people, and exclude the federal government in providing people health, education and policing. These are not just very basic areas of governance, they are also the points at which most citizens exclusively come into contact with the government. Because of this, their budgets have a special importance. However, in this year’s round of budgets, it does not seem that there has been any effort made by any government, any party, to change how governments behave towards their citizens. It almost seems as if the caution induced by the need to make the international finance institutions happy, has paralysed the parties that were expected to make a difference. The result has been the following of routine, at a time when the country—and the provinces making it up—face a grave crisis, perhaps the greatest of its existence.