Rs84.2b for education, Rs12.4b for health

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ISLAMABAD – The federal government has allocated Rs 84.195 billion for education and Rs 12.4 billion for health sector out of the total budget outlay of Rs 4894.9 billion for the next fiscal year 2016-17. The federal education budget is Rs 76 million less than that allocated last fiscal year for this sector.

According to the budget document presented in the National Assembly by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday, the government has set aside Rs 21.5 billion for Higher Education Commission projects.

“It is disappointing to see the Prime Minister giving so much importance to education by launching a reform initiative, and the Finance Minister is actually decreasing the allocation for the sector. There is actually a decrease of Rs 76 million if you compare the expected expenditure in 2015-2016 with the allocation announced in the budget,” said Salman Naveed, Campaign Manager, Political Advocacy at Alif Ailaan.

The government in the past made promises on various occasions to spend four percent of its GDP for education. This commitment has been made by various governments and has been explicitly stated as Pakistan’s policy in numerous official documents. The current government’s officials have repeated this promise on several occasions. The most recent domestic articulation of this commitment was made by Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on the floor of the parliament in his budget speech yesterday. The health sector has been allocated Rs 12.4 billion for the next fiscal year; which is far less than Rs 20.88 billion allocated last year.

Experts have criticized the government on the less allocation for health and education sectors. “People are severely facing education and health related issues but the cut down of the funds for these sectors will affect the quality of life in a broader perspective,” said Sadia Razzaq, a researcher in Sustainable Development Policy Institute, an Islamabad based think-tank.

“It seems that the government is not serious in changing lives of the people, without any long-term agenda in provision of educational and health services, and their promises are limited only to rhetoric,” she added. Saqib Sherani, an expert on economy, claimed that Pakistan is ranked 172nd on education and 187th on health to GDP spending around the world, much lower to the international standard in terms of provision of health and educational services.

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