July 07 - 13, 2008

Balochistan the largest province of Pakistan being blessed with natural resources is the most neglected and deprived province of the country. It has lot of grievances with the Federal Government for not paying adequate attention to its political, economic and social problems. The native people of the province regard its natural resources as exclusive property of the province. The recent law and order situation has reduced its inability to mobilize its revenue. It is heavily dependent for all sorts of assistance whether financial or economical from the Federal Government. The present budget is being prepared with its inadequate resources and assistance from Federal Government.

In spite of all the resource constraints the new government of Balochistan presented the first tax-free budget of Rs.71.91 billion with a deficit of Rs.8.80 billion. This contained Rs.15.74 billion on development expenditure, Rs.47.52 billion on current expenditure and capital expenditure of Rs.7.92 billion. An amount of Rs.3.25 billion has been earmarked in ADP for new development schemes.

Total resources are assessed at Rs.62.38 billion. Out of this only Rs.3.47billion will be contributed from its own receipt, Rs.48.05 billion to be acquired from federal transfers besides capital receipt of Rs.6.22 billion, and Rs.4.6 billion from foreign project assistance.

During the past financial year, Balochistan income surpassed budgetary projection. Compared with the original projection of Rs.43.82 billion revenue income, the revised estimate amounted to Rs.46.38 billion.

Balochistan budget with a deficit of Rs.8.80 billion would be reduced to Rs.5.80 billion after the receipt of Rs.3 billion from Prime Minister's discretionary fund.

The government considers the budget as for the welfare of the common man on the ground that it is a tax-free. The poor man in Balochistan with its multifarious problem does not judge that it is for their economic welfare being. They feel that they are considered as inferior to other provinces in the country.

Considering its resources limitation and realising the unemployment of its youth it envisages for this financial year creation of 2,425 jobs, which will be filled through Balochistan Public Service Commission.

As like the 20 per cent increase in the basic salaries and pensions of Federal Government it announced the same percentage increase of its employees. Besides this, there will be an increase in medical and conveyance allowances, in accordance with the measure announced by the Federal Government for its employees. Liberal financial assistance will be provided to the heirs of victim of terrorism who died during their service. In the same context full salaries will be paid to police and jail authorities who lost their life while performing their official duties.

The budget lays special emphasis on lessening wasteful expenditure. There will be complete ban on purchase of new vehicles and on participation of seminars abroad. The ban may be relaxed on the purchase of new vehicle under special circumstances and permission will be given to its employees if federal government or foreign organization finances the expenditure and training courses.

Since the literacy rate is very low in Balochistan as compared to other provinces the budget will give priority to the education sector. The government will setup 10 cadet colleges of which 5 are under construction 8 polytechnic will be established out of which 3 will be for girls. Besides 13 professional training institutes with financial assistance of Islamabad in different part of the province will be setup.

The government will not ignore Gwadar Port city. Its tempo of development will be further accelerated to rise into an important gateway of trade for Central Asia. The government plans to complete the business plan of Gwadar Port in this new financial year. It is considering shifting workload of Karachi Port Trust and Port Qasim Authority to Gwadar Port.

The Federal Government has allocated Rs.1 billion for setting up of Gwadar's Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and Rs.750 million for construction of new Gwadar International Airport.

The provincial government has allocated Rs.10.2 million for the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA).

In mineral sector development the prospects are bright. The World Bank will invest $ 40 million to $ 45 million for exploration of minerals in the financial year 2008-09. In the present circumstances of rising world prices of minerals, Balochistan has a bright prospect of attracting foreign investors.

In order to overcome the high load shedding the federal government will provide electricity to 700 villages. It will establish 132 KV grid stations in Basina, Darwaza and Haramzi. 300 villages will be electrified through solar energy.

Balochistan government will follow the same policy of Federal Government of encouraging agriculture. It will provide bulldozers to farmers to bring 19,748 hectors of land under cultivation. In order to meet the shortage of wheat the government will arrange 400,000 metric tons of wheat from other provinces. In this context Rs.500 million has been allocated for the subsidy on wheat.

The budget with much of resource constraints is prepared with good intention under the prevailing circumstances. For the future preparation of Balochistan budget the Federal Government should not ignore its problems relating to political, economic financial, and social constraints. Its need of capital intensive development schemes for logistics, education, and health must be properly looked into by the Federal Government. The Federal Government should recognize the fact that Balochistan is the future hope of Pakistan and so its genuine grievances relating to its due share of its mineral resources and net hydel profit must be given due attention. The province should be given level playing field to help Balochistan to come at par with the development of other provinces. In this context the Prime Minister had already established a committee under the charge of Law Minister to see that its grievances are redressed.