On Friday the PPP-led coalition government in Balochistan presented a budget of Rs955.6 billion for the 2024-25 fiscal year. The budget includes Rs321.2 billion for development projects and a projected cash surplus of Rs25.4 billion.

The budget was to be presented on Saturday but a high-level meeting presided by Chief Minister Sarfaraz Bugti decided that it would be presented on Friday. The reason for changing the date was not disclosed.

Finance Minister Mir Shoaib Ahmed Nosherwani presented the budget, which is 36% larger than last year’s estimate of Rs701.4 billion. This increase is mainly due to a 39% rise in Balochistan’s share of federal tax revenue, expected to go up to Rs647 billion from Rs464.7 billion.

Other significant sources of revenue include Rs20.6 billion in straight transfers from the federal government, Rs20 million in non-development grants, and Rs59.1 billion in development grants. Balochistan will also receive Rs47.7 billion from provincial taxes and Rs76.8 billion from provincial non-tax receipts. Foreign assistance for development is expected to be Rs10.9 billion, lower than last year’s Rs12 billion.

However, the increase in revenue will be offset by a 41% rise in current expenses, which will reach Rs564.9 billion due to higher pay and pension costs and increased security spending. Development spending will slightly increase to Rs321.2 billion from Rs313.3 billion.

Mr. Nosherwani emphasized his government’s commitment to educating children aged 5-16, as mandated by Article 25-A of Pakistan’s Constitution. He announced education initiatives including the creation of 535 new posts and the filling of 9,394 vacant positions from Grades 9 to 15 so that the shortage of teachers could be overcome and schools could be made functional again.

The government plans to allocate Rs3.5 billion from federal grants to improve education in 22 underdeveloped districts. Additionally, Rs5 billion will be allocated for public universities facing financial issues, with Rs2 billion already released for 11 universities in crisis. The budget sets aside Rs32 billion for higher education development and Rs114.8 billion for non-development spending.

In the health sector, the government has allocated Rs67.3 billion for non-development expenditures, a 30% increase from the current year, and Rs20 billion for development. Initiatives include creating 242 new health sector posts, allocating Rs1.3 billion for the Gwadar Pak-China Friendship Hospital, and Rs1.3 billion for pediatric oncology services. The government also plans to make three main hospitals autonomous and establish a liver transplant hospital in Nasirabad.

The finance minister said that the government is taking climate change seriously, and plans to rehabilitate flood-affected areas and improve the Hairdin drainage system. Key allocations include Rs10 billion under the Green Balochistan Initiative and Rs7.9 billion for the Disaster Management Authority.

A total of Rs93.1 billion has been allocated for law and order, including Rs74 billion for police, Levies Force, and Balochistan Constabulary. The Gwadar Safe City project, which the Baloch nationalists and Gwadar residents oppose, will receive Rs1 billion.

The budget for local governments will be increased by 108%, reaching Rs35 billion for 2024-25. Additionally, provincial employee salaries will increase by 25% for Grades 1 to 16 and 22% for Grades 17 to 22. The government will also invest an additional Rs2 billion in Balochistan’s pension fund and introduce a contributory pension scheme for new employees starting July 1.

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