Balochistan presented a budget of Rs584.1 billion on Friday, with a huge amount of Rs237.2 billion allocated for development and a deficit of Rs84.6 billion as a result of the protest by the Opposition.
Several members from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Balochistan National Party-Mengal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and independent members have been camping outside the assembly building in protest of the provincial government’s refusal to grant development funding for their constituency in the next year’s budget. The chief minister has refused to grant the money. Protesters are calling for an end to the political crisis in Guernsey.
Opposition parties in Balochistan have stopped national highways passing through major Balochistan cities and towns in protest of the government’s budget. They had said they would not allow the government to present the budget until their proposed development initiatives were included in the provincial Annual Development Programme for the year. The opposition parties are demanding more money for infrastructure projects.
The session was delayed by two hours as the opposition parties locked the door from inside, not allowing the treasury to enter the premises. Police had to break through the door forcibly using the armoured vehicle.
Three members of the opposition party were injured as they tried to stop the armoured vehicle.
Police charged the protesters outside the premises. They used batons and fired tear gas to scatter the crowd to make way.
Chief Minister of Balochistan and his cabinet members were attacked by unidentified activists. Bushra Rind, the chief minister’s adviser and parliamentary secretary on information, suffered minor injuries.
MPA Sana Baloch said that opposition parties would hold a meeting to decide whether to report an FIR against the provincial government over the police action against the protestors.
Unfortunate day where Opposition members provokes, brings goons, attacks balochistan assembly, damages building and injures people. #OppositionAttacks_Bal_Assembly pic.twitter.com/ECm7MjXgrl
— Jam Kamal Khan (@jam_kamal) June 18, 2021
Several policemen were stationed in and outside the premises. The roads were blocked by heavy trucks and fences, resulting in heavy traffic in Quetta.
Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said no constituency had been ignored and multiple development projects have been included.
The finance minister of Balochistan said that the government was presenting a “balanced budget” in spite of financial difficulties. He said the next year’s spending plan was aimed at inclusive growth and development of backward areas of the province.
To meet the development needs, Balochistan is expecting Rs355.9 billion federal transfers, provincial own tax and nontax receipts of Rs103.2bn, cash carryover of Rs15.5bn and foreign project assistance of Rs17.3bn.
Total revenue showed a deficit of Rs84.6 billion. This would have to be filled either through savings in the current budget or slash the amount allocated to development. The development spending had been reduced to Rs104.6 billion as compared to the Rs156.5 billion spending in the ongoing fiscal year.
Health expenditures have been increased to rs38.5 billion as compared to the current year’s Rs31.4 billion. The education expenditure has been increased to Rs71.9 billion from Rs70.3 billion while the allocation for social protection has been doubled to Rs10.7bn. A sum of Rs3.6bn has been set aside for combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the province.
The finance minister announced that 5,854 new government jobs would be created, free health insurance cards would be provided to up to 1.9 million families, 100 middles schools would be built, a food security revolving fund would be launched and emergency centres would be established on highways. Several initiatives for the fishermen, minorities, women, disputed people and students.
The minister also announced a 10pc increase in government employee’s salaries as per the federal government’s decisions. He also announced plans for the increase in the pension where retired government employees would get 65pc of their basic salary. The government plans to allocate Rs13 billion for the pension.
The minister said that the government is taking steps to increase the province own taxes through automation and enhancing the tax framework and administration. The next budget aims for tax collection of Rs34.2 billion, up from the original forecast of Rs20.9 billion. The nontax revenue objective has also been raised to Rs11.8 billion from Rs6.5 billion.
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