RS603BN KPK BUDGET UNVEILED
From Our Correspondent
PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Finance Minister Muzaffar Said has unveiled the province’s annual budget for fiscal 2017-18, which has a total outlay of Rs603 billion. For the fiscal 2017-18, the KPK government expects to generate Rs45.21bn through the province’s own tax and non-tax sources. Rs 10 billion loan will also be taken to undertake developmental programmes. The rest will come from the federation. In his budget speech, Muzaffar stated that the provincial government has been striving to secure royalties relating to hydel power projects and has achieved considerable success in this regard. Rs24.7bn will be received from the federation under this head. The KPK government has allocated Rs127.91bn for education for the year 2017-18 which is an 18 per cent 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. Rs49.27 bn have been allocated for health services in the province, up 31pc from the current fiscal year’s budget. The finance minister announced 450 new developmental projects which will be initiated in the year. Rs208bn have been allocated for development in KP for fiscal 2017-18, which is 29pc higher than the outgoing year. This includes Rs82bn of foreign aid. The government has also allocated Rs13.73bn for 349 road infrastructure projects across the province. The minister also promised 20 new dams in his speech, on the floor of the KPK Assembly. The government has introduced no new taxes for the year, but has increased taxation on housing above five Marlas of land as well as transport. The government also plans to bring ride-hailing services into the tax net by including them in the sales tax schedule. The highlight of the budget speech was the relief provided to current and ex-government employees. The government has allocated Rs16.5bn for salaries, pensions and allowances. Pensioners will see a 10pc increase in their pensions, while the ad-hoc relief allowance shall be included in their basic pay with a 10pc increase. The government has also announced that the minimum wage will be increased to Rs15,000 from the current Rs14,000. The minister lamented that the province was being kept in dark regarding the details of the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). However, the efforts of the provincial government had paid off, the minister said, which ensured that its projects were approved. The government expects Rs24bn investment in the province relating to CPEC over the upcoming year.