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‘No revised budget unless Punjab’s concerns addressed’

‘No revised budget unless Punjab’s concerns addressed’

LAHORE: The Punjab government is reluctant to present its revised budget for the current fiscal in the Punjab Assembly without setting things right with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and finance division in the federal government.

The Punjab government has written to the ECP and the finance division – seeking permission to fund the ongoing development schemes and asking for its due share of funds from the finance division.

Well-placed sources told Dawn the Punjab government was not finalising date for the presentation of its revised budget and seeking authorization for supplementary grants from the Punjab Assembly. The government is left with less than two weeks as the assembly session might run till May 14.

The Punjab Planning and Development (P&D) department wrote to the ECP seeking permission to spend funds on the ongoing development schemes.

Sources say the Punjab government did not want to defy ECP ban on new development projects and recruitment. Sources said funds for the ongoing development projects were usually dispersed in the last quarter of every financial year.

The Punjab government is also contesting its case with the ECP that the incumbent government can carry out development schemes till the last moment it was in power.

“The utilisation of funds is usually slow in the first three quarters as it picks momentum in the last quarter and so is the case at hands,” sources say. The P&D urged the ECP to allow it to make financial adjustments in the ongoing schemes.

In a recent meeting, it is learnt, the Punjab government had asked for funds from the finance department but the latter refused citing ECP ban. The P&D is now waiting with its fingers crossed.

On the other hand, the Punjab finance department has taken up its case with the finance division seeking its remaining share of Rs52 billion. It is learnt that the federal government had been reported in the press that the Punjab government was given Rs52 billion less than its share on the basis of calculations of revenue receipts collected in the first 10 months of the ongoing financial year 2017-18. The finance department has written a letter to the finance division.

As soon as the Punjab government’s concerns would be cleared, sources said, the government would immediately present its revised budget and seek authorization of supplementary grants from the Punjab Assembly. “The Punjab government will not announce the next fiscal 2018-19’s first three months budget and let the caretaker government announce first four months budget,” they said.

When asked, an official said, the Punjab government would neither be announcing any development scheme, taxes or relief to government employees as well as general public. However, he said, the finance department had prepared a complete budget for the next financial year 2018-19.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018

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