PESHAWAR:

The caretaker government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) presented an austerity budget of Rs462 billion for the next 123 days, with a view to maintaining the current level of taxes until the new elected government took over in the province.

The budget for July 1-October 31, 2023 period, was unveiled at a joint press conference by Himayatullah Khan, adviser to the chief minister on finance, and Information Minister Firoz Kakakhil and Planning Minister Hamid Shah in Peshawar.

The budget was approved by the provincial cabinet in a special meeting, Himayatullah Khan told the press conference. He added the provincial expenditure for the first four months of the next fiscal year had been estimated at Rs462.426 billion.

“Government expenditure has been cut by another 25%,” the adviser said. “No new tax has been imposed in the budget, while the tax levied during the current financial year will remain in force at the same rate,” he added.

Out of the total budget outlay, the adviser said, Rs350.041 billion had been allocated for the current expenditure, including Rs40.543 billion for the merged districts of former Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Rs309.498 billion for the rest.

On the revenue side, the government expected to receive Rs871 billion from the Centre in the next fiscal year, which include Rs84 billion in terms of hydel profit and arrears; Rs90 billion for the war against terrorism, and Rs85 billion in its share in taxes and others.

Read more: Balochistan unveils Rs750b budget for FY2023-24

Besides, the provincial government also expected to receive Rs93 billion from foreign resources for the purpose of development works during the next financial year, the finance adviser told the reporters.

In terms of the annual development Plan (ADP), Rs112.385 billion had been allocated, including Rs20.263 billion for the merged districts and R43.333 billion for other districts, the provincial finance adviser told reporters.

In line with the federal budget, the province also announced 35% ad hoc relief in the salaries of provincial employees from grade 1 to 16 and 30% ad hoc relief for from grade 17 to 22 officers. An increase of 17.5% in the pension was also approved.

Pays and pensions increase amounted to Rs5 billion. “We have increased the salaries and pensions of the government employees despite a lack of resources and other financial difficulties,” Khan said.

Read Balochistan to boost development budget

Alongside the pay raise, the budget also increased the traveling allowance and deputation allowance by 50%; doubled the special conveyance allowance for disabled employees and the secretariat performance allowance.

The main highlight of the budget is the strict austerity measures. The adviser said that all posts lying vacant for the past three years would be abolished; and there would be a total ban on new development projects.

Himayatullah Khan said that the matter of blocking the implementation of the promotion given to 130,000 teachers by the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the province had been referred to the relevant committee.

Besides, the government also banned the purchase of physical assets, new vehicles and renovation of government offices and residences; participation in seminars abroad on government expenses; and medical treatment abroad on the government expenses.

The budget also sought to streamline the necessary payments and release of funds during the next four months. Khan said that only 10% of the allocated funds would be released for ongoing development schemes.

“We have managed the budget of the current financial year under very difficult circumstances,” Khan said. “We did not take any loan or overdraft from the State Bank [of Pakistan] from March to June,” he added.

“We have requested 100 MMFC of additional gas from the Centre so that we can supply gas to our industries,” he said, adding that imposition of federal excise duty (FED) on the petroleum reserves found in the province had also been demanded of the Centre.





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