No new tax in Balochistan budget
QUETTA: The Aslam Raisani government went an extra mile to please the provincial legislators in an election year by enhancing allocation for the uplift schemes ‘identified’ by them to about 54 per cent of the total development programme of Rs35.82 billion announced on Monday in the budget which shows a total revenue and development outlay of Rs143 billion for the next financial year.
Mr Raisani has generously agreed to allocate Rs300 million, Rs50 million more than the amount allocated in the current year’s budget, to each of the 63 members of the provincial assembly (excluding himself and the only opposition member in the house, Yar Mohammad Rind) supporting his government for developing constituencies in 2012-13.
Thus, a sum of just below Rs19 billion or 58 per cent of the provincial contribution of Rs33.21 billion to the entire public sector development programme (PSDP) that also includes a foreign project assistance loan of Rs2.61 billion will get spent according to the wishes of the legislators.
Still, the hefty development funding for MPAs’ schemes has failed to impress some as four ministers, three from the Awami National Party and one from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Ideological Group), staged a token walkout from the house even before the start of the budget speech. They maintained that the ‘government’ had not included in the budget their recommendation for accepting demands of clerks.
Balochistan finance department officials told Dawn after the budget announcement that each assembly member would get Rs50 million for ‘small’ schemes and the remaining Rs250 million for larger projects specified by them.
A cabinet member said some of his colleagues in the house, who were “more equal among the equals”, might get even a bigger share in the pie depending upon their political clout. He conceded that there was no guarantee that the development spending would help all of them return to the assembly in the election. “Nor is there any guarantee that they, if elected, will help Mr Raisani in his re-election as chief minister,” he added.
Balochistan estimates a revenue income of Rs149.14 billion, which is 17 per cent more than the estimates for the current year. It will receive Rs131 billion from the federal government as transfers (Rs114.20 billion) from the divisible pool tax, straight transfers (Rs12.78 billion), GST on services (Rs4 billion) and wellhead price and GDS arrears, etc (Rs12.87 billion).
A sum of Rs140 billion will be generated from provincial taxes, slightly more than the current year’s estimates of Rs134 billion.
No new tax or change in the rates of existing provincial taxes has been proposed. The static provincial tax revenues indicate inelasticity of the taxes, which increases Balochistan’s dependence on federal transfers under the National Finance Commission. The remaining Rs3.34 billion will come from provincial non-tax receipts.
The capital receipts of Rs30.79 billion, which include loans of Rs14.30 billion (Rs10.60 billion from ways and means from the central bank and Rs3.70 billion from the federal government for repayment of the province’s old loans), income of Rs7.60 billion from state trading, recoveries of loans and advances of Rs6.29 billion and foreign assistance of Rs2.61 billion, take the size of the provincial consolidated fund (comprising revenue and capital receipt) to Rs179.98 billion from Rs164.60 billion estimated for the current year.
Against its revenue income, the province has pitched its revenue expenditure at Rs107.28 billion, creating a surplus of Rs41.86 billion, a part of which, Rs6 billion, will be used to finance the net capital deficit and the remaining Rs33.21 billion to fund the provincial development programme.
Major initiatives announced in the budget include creation of 6,530 direct jobs, 20 per cent ad hoc raise in the pay and pension of provincial employees, increase of Rs2,000 in minimum wage to Rs9,000, seven per cent increase in funds for law and order to Rs13.53 billion, establishment of an emergency service on Punjab’s pattern, upgradation of posts of SST to BPS-16, allocation of Rs2 billion for the provision of free medicines and purchase of equipment for public hospitals, supply of solar power to 300 villages under Rs888 million Solar Home System Project, subsidy of Rs3 billion for 15,660 agriculture tubewells, shifting of civil, chief minister’s and governor’s secretariats as well, water supply schemes, street lights in divisional headquarters on solar power at a cost of Rs4.45 billion and establishment of grant-in-aid for disabled journalists.
Major investments the government has planned comprise allocation of Rs12 billion for the Reko Diq Copper Refinery Plant, Rs3.5 billion for energy board and Rs6.67 billion for state trading.