Punjab Finance Minister Awais Leghari unveiled a Rs3.226-trillion budget for 2022-23 on Wednesday, emphasising health, water conservation, agriculture, women empowerment, and Special Economic Zones.
Meanwhile, at the provincial legislature, another session was held simultaneously, chaired by Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, as the standoff between the provincial government and the opposition continued.
The budget was unable to be presented in the House on Monday and Tuesday due to a disagreement between the Treasury and opposition benches during the sessions, which caused a ruckus.
“No new sales tax on services has been imposed,” he said.
He stated that Rs470 billion have been set aside for health sector. Out of this, he highlighted that Rs2.66 billion would go towards non-development expenditure while Rs144.5 billion were allocated for development expenditure.
Similarly, Rs3.69 billion has been set aside for literacy and non-formal basic education, with Rs3 billion set aside for development.
Leghari pointed out that Rs4 billion was set aside for family planning, while Rs21 billion was set aside for primary and secondary healthcare. A total of Rs3.87 billion has been been aside for the establishment of primary healthcare schemes.
The finance minister added, “In addition, the number of Rescue 1122 ambulance units will be expanded.”
The minister revealed that Rs1.4 billion had been set aside for the marginalised. He went on to say that senior citizens from minority groups would receive Rs2,000 per month.
“Despite being the food capital of Pakistan, Punjab faced sugar and wheat crisis last year,” he said. “Keeping this in view, we are allocating Rs53.19 billion for agriculture.”
He also declared that the province administration would implement crop zoning for farmers based on incentives. The government will begin the Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation programme in fiscal year 2022-23, according to the minister.
“Under the scheme, modern technology would be provided to farmers and Rs3.65 billion have been allocated for it,” he said.
The province government has set aside Rs2.85 billion for livestock and Rs53.32 billion for conservation of water.
Utility services for Faisalabad’s Allama Iqbal Industrial City are being secured, he said. In 2022-23, he said that Quaid-e-Azam Business Park will receive Rs185 million in finance, while Small Industrial Estate in Sargodha and Leather City in Kasur will receive Rs2 billion and Rs1.16 billion, respectively.
The minister announced a Rs340 million transportation budget for fiscal year 2022-23. The budget for the energy industry has been set at Rs5 billion. The province government has given approximately Rs1.5 billion for solar energy conversion in government departments.
“Climate change is being prioritised in the province to eliminate the threat of smog, forest fires, and heat waves,” he stated.
Sports and youth affairs would receive Rs8.83 billion from the government.
“Under the Women on Wheels programme, scooties will be provided to lady health and polio workers,” Leghari said. “The scope of violence against women centres is also being enhanced.” Leghari also announced establishment of hostels for women working far from homes.
Deadlock between govt, opposition
Speaker Pervaiz Elahi had earlier refused to allow the provincial budget to be presented in the Punjab Assembly on Monday, demanding an apology from the Inspector General Police (IGP) and the withdrawal of all cases filed against PTI and PML-Q workers and parliamentarians in connection with the chaotic April 16 session.
Members of the opposition and the Treasury benches met for six hours in a row but were unable to achieve an agreement. The speaker expressed great displeasure with the chief secretary’s and IGP’s absences, stating that the proceedings would only continue if both officers were present in the assembly gallery.
Elahi postponed the hearing until 1 p.m. on Tuesday, after keeping the proceedings delayed until 11 p.m.