Genuinely development oriented Punjab budget
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.