Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has joined the list of provinces that have unveiled their budgets for the new fiscal year. Finance Minister Muzaffar Said, announced a total outlay of Rs603 billion, along with the claim that it is the most pro-poor budget; providing maximum relief to the people and government employees.

The outlay that has been announced is 19 percent higher than the outgoing fiscal year, and is purely because of foreign and domestic loans. The provincial government plans on taking Rs52.7 billion worth of foreign loans, while, Rs10 billion domestic loans. This highlights the increasing debt problem, and that taking on more loans does not seem like a problem to the policymakers. Our reliance on debts, both federally and provincially, highlights the inherent problem of not addressing areas that need focus.

Sectors of health and education have been allotted a decent amount to actually witness some progress. Rs127.91bn for education has been allocated for the year 2017-18, which is an 18 percent increase over the outgoing year. Out of this, Rs115.92bn will go to the primary and secondary education sector, while Rs12bn have been allocated for higher education. Rs49.27bn have been allocated for health services in the province, up 31pc from the current fiscal year’s budget.

However, the government has not refrained from setting some unrealistic targets. The revenue figures that the government has proposed are way more optimistic than they should be. Expecting an output of Rs45.2 billion from tax and non-tax collection is just not possible; especially when it has been established in the last fiscal year. The government expected to get around Rs49.5 billion as revenue, but it merely collected around Rs20.9 billion. This highlights the need for setting realistic targets, which can actually be achieved. Setting up higher targets and failing to achieve them only points out inefficiency and lack of planning.

At the same time, the Finance Minister also promised to build 10 dams during the year. One can understand the need to give such statements when it is the last year in government, however, these policy makers need to make promises that they can actually fulfil. It is not the time to show off by presenting elaborate plans, rather than actually getting work done based on the ground realities.

KP has a long way to go. The province requires dedication, honesty and hard work to actually progress. Though the education budget has indeed risen, allocations to various seminaries and the interference of religious parties in curriculum creation has always been controversial. If PTI wishes to be a progressive party that brings real change, these past controversies must be removed from its policy package.