QUETTA: Balochistan’s Rs282.77 billion budget for the next financial year aims to massively boost its investment in transport, education, health, infrastructure and productive sectors and security to attract foreign investors and turn the province into a regional commercial and industrial hub.
Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri unveiled the deficit budget in the Balochistan Assembly on Sunday evening.
The government has pitched its development expenditure for the next financial year at Rs71.18bn, up by almost a third from the original estimates of Rs54.50bn for 2015-16. But the total available resources, including foreign project assistance of Rs6.18bn, are estimated to be Rs34.70bn, or less than half the size of the proposed development spending.
The difference between consolidated estimated revenues and consolidated expenditure stood at Rs37.53bn, but the government’s decision to divert the surplus of Rs1.05bn in its food account for other budgetary operations pulled down the budget deficit to Rs36.48bn.
The total provincial consolidated fund for 2016-17 is estimated to be Rs289.37bn as it includes an expenditure of Rs6.58bn for state trading in food.
The budget was announced by the chief minister against the backdrop of a massive National Accountability Bureau’s corruption investigation against his former provincial adviser on finance Mir Khalid Khan Langov and finance secretary Mushtaq Ahmed Raisani.
Both Langov and Raisani are in the custody of the anti-corruption agency, which recovered about Rs650 million in cash — in local and foreign currencies — from the finance secretary’s home last month. NAB arrested Langov days after he resigned from his post to clear the way for inquiry into the case.
The budget size, excluding the food account, is just over 16pc heftier than the present year’s Rs243.53bn.
The revenue estimates include federal transfers, including straight transfers of Rs196.84bn, tax and non-tax receipts of Rs9.12bn, GDS arrears of Rs10bn, ways and means debt of Rs17.70bn, loan recoveries of Rs5.38bn and foreign development assistance of Rs6.18bn.
The budget proposes current expenditure of Rs184.76bn on service delivery; of this, an amount of Rs30.26bn has been earmarked for security, Rs43.67bn for education, Rs17.37bn for health, Rs17.79bn for social protection and pro-poor subsidies and Rs28.29bn for general public services. Likewise, Rs26.83bn have been earmarked for the capital spending and Rs18.9bn for debt payments while an investment of Rs3bn will be made in the provincial pension fund and Rs1bn in the education endowment fund.
Mr Zehri claimed that the budget had been formulated with a view to tackling problems of common man by boosting development spending. He said his government had created `Balochistan Investment Board’ in order to attract foreign direct investment to exploit natural resources of the province and encourage industrial and commercial activities.