LAHORE - The Punjab government is going to present around Rs1,165 billion budget for fiscal year 2015-16 on Friday (today). The supplementary budget statement for the concluding financial year will also be presented before the Provincial Assembly at 2:00 pm.

The newly-appointed Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha will present the budget while Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal Khan will chair the budget session. Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana had summoned the provincial assembly’s 15th session on last Monday which is in progress and it would continue till end of the current month.

Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha will be the first-ever female finance minister of Punjab who is going to present the provincial budget. Last year, the budget was presented by Mujtaba Shujaur Rahman. Dr Ayesha is known as expert in financial matters and represents the government to deal with fiscal and development projects particularly those run by with collaboration of China and Turkey.

The Orange Line, Matro Bus Service in Multan, Khadim-e-Punjab Rural Roads Programme, Apna Rozgar Scheme, skill development, Daanish schools, Saaf Pani Project as well as other projects will be initiated for a positive change in rural life.

According to the Punjab government officials involved in budget making, the yellow cab, Ashiana, soft loans and laptop schemes would continue in the next fiscal year with enhanced allocations of the resources.

The upcoming budget would include allocations for local bodies’ elections with Orange Line Metro Train project getting the biggest allocation of about Rs153 billion in ADP for its civil works wile Rs11 billion will be allocated for the running development projects in Lahore.

Like the federal budget, infrastructure development, economic growth and skills development will remain key areas of focus for the Punjab government in provincial budget with around Rs375 billion for Annual Development Programme.

Budget for current expenditures is estimated at about Rs750 billion versus Rs699 of current fiscal year. The provincial government will set the tax collection target of Rs186.4 billion for next fiscal year against Rs164.7 billion of current financial year which has not been achieved either by the Punjab Revenue Authority so far.

Under the General Revenue Receipts of Rs1.849 trillion, the provincial government would receive Rs894.65 billion from the divisible pool of the federal government, while the provincial tax and non-tax revenues have been estimated at Rs268.86 billion in the next fiscal year.

According to provincial finance ministry officials, the economic managers presently are trying to amend some clauses of luxury tax which was introduced during the budget of 2013-14 and was delayed on directives of the courts and not implemented so far.

Finance department officials said that like the outgoing fiscal year budget allocations for southern Punjab districts in the upcoming year would also be 36 per cent of the total allocations of about Rs125 billion.

The government is also allocating a subsidy of Rs7 billion for flour, transport, besides establishment of Ramazan Bazaars.

About Rs50 billion will be allocated for project of supply of potable water to rural areas in the province with the name of Saaf Pani Project under which water filtration plants will be set up in next three years. The project will be launched from four districts of South Punjab and this will gradually be expanded to the whole province.

About Rs150 billion have been allocated for Khadim-e-Punjab Rural Roads Program to improve rural economy and the Communication & Works Department will implement this huge program of repair and construction of rural roads.

The Punjab government has already launched this project with Rs15 billion at the end of this fiscal year.

According to finance department officials, the Punjab government would also increase salaries and pensions of the serving and retired civil servants corresponding with the decision in regard by the federal government by 7.5 per cent.

The core Annual Development Plan (ADP) is likely to be fixed at around Rs355 billion with some additional block allocation of more than Rs65b for the new schemes.

Rs64 billion will be allocated for education and Rs47 billion for health while Rs26 billion is being spent on energy projects at provincial level.

Like in the past, no plan is under consideration to bring the agriculture income into tax net despite the demand of IMF. Sources said that many proposals are under consideration to increase revenue through tax collection.

Sources further said incentives and subsidies to farmers on fertilizers, pesticides and machinery are also under consideration for the next budget.

The next Punjab budget is likely to carry special programme for employment and self-business schemes for the youth in addition to encouraging and providing special incentives to the students of higher education under the Higher Education Commission Punjab and for those undertaking research oriented education.