Gen­uinely de­vel­op­ment ori­ented Pun­jab bud­get

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

IN line with over­all strat­egy of PML-N to spur eco­nomic growth, Pun­jab, on Monday, un­veiled a gen­uinely de­vel­op­ment ori­ented bud get en­vis­ag­ing hefty Rs 550 bil­lion ex­pen­di­ture on in­fra­struc­ture, trans­port, ir­ri­ga­tion, agri­cul­ture, wa­ter sup­ply and en­ergy projects. It seeks to cre­ate five hun­dred thou­sand job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Province be­sides ad­di­tional one mil­lion jobs that are ex­pected to be cre­ated with the es­tab­lish­ment of three special eco­nomic zones.

Rs 1.681 tril­lion bud­get pre­sented by Finance Min­is­ter Dr Aye­sha Ghaus Pasha, who is known for her in­ge­nu­ity, is the best pos­si­ble in the given cir­cum­stances and that is why, with some ex­cep­tions, it re­ceived spon­ta­neous ac­claim from dif­fer­ent seg­ments of the so­ci­ety. It is un­der­stood that the bud­get is re­flec­tive of the vision of Chief Min­is­ter Mian Shah­baz Sharif about all-round de­vel­op­ment of the Province. Agri­cul­ture sec­tor is, no doubt, fac­ing a cri­sis due to var­i­ous rea­sons and in this back­drop, it is ap­pre­cia­ble that be­sides Fed­eral Govern­ment, the Pun­jab bud­get also en­vis­ages in­cen­tives and con­ces­sions for farm­ers that will help the sec­tor re­cover in the com­ing year. The stated aim of the Pro­vin­cial govern­ment in the fourth year of the gov­er­nance is to bring about qual­i­ta­tive change in the lives of the ci­ti­zens and this is backed by con­crete plans as the bud­get al­lo­cates about half of the to­tal out­lay ie Rs 804 bil­lion for ed­u­ca­tion, health, agri­cul­ture, se­cu­rity and pro­vi­sion of safe drink­ing wa­ter. Ed­u­ca­tion be­ing key to so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, the new bud­get seeks hefty ex­pen­di­ture on ed­u­ca­tion be­sides launch­ing of Chief Min­is­ter’s Merit Schol­ar­ship scheme. Most of the tax­a­tion pro­pos­als carry logic like tax­ing the pro­fes­sion­als who re­ceive stag­ger­ing amounts as fee but pay al­most no taxes; bring­ing cos­metic surgery, hair im­plants and ware­houses into GST net and in­crease in mo­tor ve­hi­cle tax on im­ported cars above en­gine strength of 1300 CC. How­ever, like the Fed­eral Bud­get, the Pro­vin­cial bud­get too would in­hibit growth of con­struc­tion in­dus­try that plays a cru­cial role in ful­fill­ing dreams of peo­ple to own a house in the face of in­abil­ity of the govern­ment to pro­vide shel­ter to all. Sim­i­larly, tax­ing va­cant plots on the as­sump­tion that all such plots are for sale would be some­thing un­fair to those as­pir­ing to build a home through sav­ings.

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