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Monday Jun 15 2020

Punjab govt presents 'progressive, pro-business' budget of Rs2.24 trillion for FY2020-21

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht termed the provincial budget as "progressive and pro-business" given the ongoing circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic. Geo News/via

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht on Monday presented the provincial budget for the financial year 2020-21 (FY2020-21), with a total outlay of Rs2.2407 trillion — including Rs337 billion for development.

Addressing the Punjab Assembly session — chaired by Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and held at a local hotel due to coronavirus concerns, Bakht said the province would receive Rs1.433 trillion under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, while provincial revenue was estimated at Rs317 billion during FY2020-21.

Under the annual development programme, Rs97.66 billion, Rs77.86 billion, Rs17.35 billion, Rs45.38 billion, Rs51.24 billion, Rs47.50 billion, and Rs25 billion were allocated to the social sector, infrastructure development, production sector, services sector, other sectors, special programme, and public private partnership, respectively.

Collections' revenue worth Rs4.963 trillion was expected from the federal divisional pool, the provincial minister added, noting that special funds on priority basis were allocated for 11 important sectors, including education, health, and employment generation.

A sum of Rs284.2 billion was set aside for the health sector, Bakht said, adding that the provincial government was utilising all available resources to tackle the pandemic and an overall amount of Rs13 billion was fixed to control it.

The Health Insaf Card programme was expanded to the entire province and five million families were given the cards so far, he explained.

The minister also stated that over Rs391 billion were allocated to the education sector and Rs350.1 billion of that amound would be spent on school education department, which will ensure the provision of free text books for all and scholarships to more than 500,000 female students.

Terming the provincial budget "progressive and pro-business" given the ongoing circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic, the provincial finance minister added that the ongoing expenditure for the next year was estimated at Rs1.318 trillion, including Rs337.6 billion for salaries.

Sums worth Rs337 billion and Rs128.40 billion were allocated for development and capital expenditures, whereas Rs125 billion was the estimated surplus for Punjab.

The government of Punjab also reduced the service delivery expenditures by Rs10 billion and bumped up the local governments’ budget by Rs10 billion, Bakht said, adding that it was also proposed to save over Rs19 billion via pension reforms.

Tax relief package

The government of Punjab also announced the biggest tax relief package in provincial history. Under the package, tax rate on health insurance and doctors' consultancy fees and hospitals would be slashed from current rates of 16% and 5%, respectively, to zero.

Tax rates on over 20 services — including small hotels, guests houses, marriage halls, laws, caterers, IT services, and tour operators — would be brought down from 16% to 5%. The current stamp duty rate would be cut from 5% to 1% to help promote the construction industry and create new job opportunities, he said.

Bakht mentioned that the Punjab Public Partnership Authority (PPPA) has identified Rs165 billion worth of mega projects — including the Lahore Ring Road Phase 4, Nala Layi Expressway, Multan-Vehari Dual Road, Rawalpindi Ring Road, and the provision of water metres — for the next fiscal year.

In addition, Rs15 billion, Rs8 billion, and Rs6.87 billion, respectively, were allocated to the community development programme, development of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, and the Technical and Vocational Education Authority (TEVTA).