The budget presented by the provincial finance minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi estimates a deficit of Rs 87 billion while non-development expenditure is estimated at Rs 309 billion. Photo, file

Quetta: Balochistan's provincial budget of Rs 465.528 billion has been presented for the next financial year.

Presenting the budget, Provincial Minister for Commerce Zahoor Ahmed Baledi said that tax relief of Rs 360 billion has been provided in the budget for the next financial year. The budget has allocated Rs 8 billion for corona virus and disaster management while Rs 38 billion has been allocated for public health engineering. Rs 50 crore has been set aside in the budget for the eradication of locusts. The budget has set aside Rs 309 billion for non-development expenditure and Rs 156 billion for development expenditure.

Zahoor Ahmed Baledi said that the budget also includes foreign aid projects worth Rs 12.177 billion for public development projects. A development program budget of Rs. 5 billion has been earmarked for the revenue generating districts.

In the next financial year, 17 per cent of the budget has been allocated for education, 10 per cent for health, 4 per cent for local bodies, 4 per cent for irrigation and more than 9 per cent of the total provincial budget for communication and construction.

Budget details

The budget has allocated Rs 118,256 crore for development expenditure while over Rs 309 billion has been allocated for non-development expenditure. The total revenue from federal, provincial and other sources in the budget is estimated at more than Rs. 377 billion. Besides, 6840 vacancies have also been announced while no increase in salaries of government employees has been mentioned.

Presenting the budget for the next financial year in the House in the House of Representatives chaired by Speaker Mir Abdul Qaddos Bizenjo with a delay of two hours from the scheduled time on Saturday, Provincial Finance Minister Mir Zahoor Baledi said that the budget includes health sector. 23.981 billion for development, Rs. 7.050 billion for development, Rs. 44 billion for non-development, Rs. 4.121 billion for development in agriculture and Rs. 11.071 billion for non-development.

He said that Rs. 11.783 billion has been earmarked for higher education in non-developmental sector, Rs. 9.107 billion in total development sector of education sector and Rs. 51.873 billion in non-developmental sector. Rs 0.382 billion in development for food and Rs 743.578 billion in non-development, Rs 4.184 billion in development for municipalities and Rs 12.995 billion in non-development, Rs 33.873 billion in development for communications and construction and Rs 33.873 billion in non-development. 11.397 billion, Rs. 15.006 billion in total development for irrigation and irrigation and Rs. 4.553 billion in non-development, Rs. 0.534 billion in development for minerals and mineral resources and Rs. 3.624 billion in non-development for fisheries. Rs 0.827 billion has been earmarked for development and Rs 1.232 billion for non-development.

Rs 2.518 billion in development for energy sector and Rs 6.851 billion in non-development, Rs 0.200 billion in development for environment and climate change and Rs 0.450 billion in non-development, Rs 0.949 billion in development for animals and 4.592 billion for non-development, Rs. 0.061 billion for development and Rs. 2.258 billion for non-development.

Rs 0.524 billion in development for industry and handicrafts and Rs 1.946 billion in non-development, Rs 1.444 billion in development for social welfare and protection and Rs 11.711 billion in non-development, Rs 5.340 billion in development for sports and youth. And 1.041 billion has been allocated for non-development.

For culture, tourism and archeology, Rs. 0.941 billion has been allocated for development and Rs. 0.465 billion for non-development, Rs. 0.869 billion for development of science and information technology and Rs. 0.398 billion for non-development.

According to the budget speech, the total number of ongoing development schemes in the province is 934 for which 60.875 billion while the total number of new development schemes is 1634 for which Rs 57.381 billion has been allocated.

The Finance Minister said that the Government of Balochistan has launched a regular “Chief Minister Loan Scheme” at a cost of Rs. 588.5 million with the joint cooperation of the charity Akhot. Under the scheme, interest free loans are being provided to 25,000 deserving people.

He said that due to the extraordinary situation of Corona virus, in order to provide relief to the people across the province in terms of taxes, exemptions have been given from April to June 2020 on taxes levied on key services sector and vehicles. Allocated Rs 4.5 billion from its own resources to combat the virus epidemic, the largest amount in the province's history to deal with any emergency.

The provincial finance minister said that the initial estimate of the total budget for the current financial year was Rs 419.922 billion. The revised budget for the year 2019-20 is estimated at Rs. 380.327 billion. The current expenditure estimate for the financial year 2019-20 was Rs. 293.579 billion which was reduced to Rs. 276.150 billion in the revised estimate.

During the budget speech, there was a strong protest by the opposition after which the opposition members walked out of the meeting.

Steps for corona virus

The Balochistan government launched the Corona Virus Emergency Fund and allocated Rs. 1 billion for it, to which provincial government employees contributed Rs. 318 million from their salaries. The provincial minister said that the number of corona virus testing capabilities is increasing with each passing day, corona is being tested on 1500 people on a daily basis and steps are being taken to increase the number. Isolation centers with 68 quarantine, 2148 beds were set up in all the districts of the province to house suspected corona virus patients in quarantine and isolation centers. A Medical Procurement Committee was constituted for the timely provision of medical facilities, medicines and services. The committee immediately ensured the supply of medical equipment, corona virus protective clothing, laboratory equipment and machinery.

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