Punjab govt announces Rs1.681trn budget

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LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday presented the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 with a total outlay of over Rs 1.681 trillion.

The budget session was marred by a ruckus and chaos as opposition lawmakers continued to chant slogans during the speech by provincial finance minister Dr. Ayesha Ghaus. Opposition members also tore apart copies of the budget in protest.

The opposition slogans were met by pounding of desks by legislators from the government benches, who were also joined by Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif pounded desk in appreciation.

Delivering the budget speech in the Punjab Assembly, Dr. Ayesha Ghaus announced that the development budget will be more than Rs 550 billion in which 142 new projects would be included.

“It has also been proposed in the budget to impose new taxes on ten items and also impose taxes on ten new services,” she said in her speech.

She said that Rs 30 billion were allocated for projects that were operating on foreign investments, Rs 100 billion have been allocated for the Orange Line Metro Train project and roads whereas Rs 150 billion have been allocated for the health sector.

For the power sector, the Punjab government has proposed to keep the budget at Rs 18 billion. For Punjab Police, Rs 94 billion has been allocated and for the Clean Water program, Rs 30 billion has been proposed.

It is also proposed in the budget to increase taxes on consultants, specialists and dental surgeons. It is expected that tax on vehicles of 1500-2000 CC will be increased by two to three percent. Rs 800 billion have been allocated for salaries whereas for communication and construction, Rs 250 billion have been allocated.

The provincial finance minister said Rs 50 billion is allocated for the Farmer’s package, Rs 16.86 billion for urban development, Rs 12.21 billion for the Agriculture sector, and Rs 5 billion for the expansion of Canal road in Lahore.

Dr. Ayesha Ghaus said Rs 9 billion have been allocated for repairing and construction of damaged school buildings. For the Education sector, the government has set a budget of Rs 22 billion and 62 crore whereas for the Higher Education, an amount of Rs 13 billion and 49 crore has been allocated.

“For provision of facilities in schools, a sum of Rs 6 billion has been proposed while Rs 90 crore has been allocated for the Special Education category. Rs 6 billion have been proposed for the laptop scheme,” She said.

She announced that government has decided to employ 70,000 new teachers and also upgrade 300,000 existing teachers.

Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said 88% more funds have been allocated this year for the sake of providing clean drinking water for the people of Punjab.

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