QUETTA: The Provincial Government renewed its pledge to accelerate the pace of economic development by adopting different measures through annual budget as a tool of economic change.
Briefing the newsmen on the salient features of the Provincial Budget at the Sikandar Jamali auditorium at the Civil Secretariat, the Provincial Finance Minister Sardar Mohammad Aslam Bizenjo said that the Government would adopt suitable measures to ensure fiscal discipline at all level.
For this the Government has plan to curtail un-necessary expenditure and adopt total austerity in saving resources. For this, he said that the Government had banned purchase of luxury vehicles for Ministers and officials.
Mr. Bizenjo said that the tax machinery is being revamped and reorganized to improve tax collection and remove all the bottlenecks on its way to boost the pace of economic development.
The Minister for Finance told newsmen that 11 oil and gas companies had been issued warning to start exploration work otherwise their licences would be cancelled. Under the 18th Amendment in the constitution, the Provincial Government has powers to issue licences for exploration of oil, gas and other mineral wealth in the provinces. Earlier, it was the monopoly of the central Government.
Responding to a question, the Finance Minister said that the budget deficit of Rs 52 billion would be met through curtailing expenses, apply strict fiscal management. At the same time, funds had been allocated for Reko Dik project once the litigation case is settled.
Mr. Bizenjo was of the opinion that Karachi and Islamabad were built as mega cities from the wealth and resources of Balochistan and the local people were denied its benefits.
He said around 7000 people will be given job in the Government departments which is the only source of employment. To a question, he said the credentials of 28000 Government servants are being verified and the Government would take action in due course of time. At this stage, the Finance Secretary Akbar Durrani had intervened and told the newsmen that the Government has issued orders to register criminal cases against those public servants enjoying double job and get double salaries from the public exchequer.
Establishment of Balochistan Revenue Authority is a big achievement and it had collected Rs five billion on sales tax and on services, Mr. Bizenjo said. He said the revenue would further increase in coming years.
More investment would be made on Pension fund to generate more revenue, the Finance Minister said. He said the payment mode had been computerized to single out the ghost pensioners. Similarly, the revenue records are also being computerized initially in four districts followed by other districts making the revenue and land records credible.
Responding to a question, he said Balochistan has become self sufficient in wheat production and 9 million bags of wheat had already been purchased during the current season.
The Finance Minister strongly criticized the Central Minister for Planning and Development who did not include the Balochistan schemes in the Federal PSDP. He said that the Federal Government had spent less in Balochistan and last year’s uplift schemes of Balochistan were included after a lapse of one year by Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Planning Minister.
Mr. Bizenjo said that the Provincial Government would take the issues seriously at the Council of Common Interests censuring the role of the Federal Minister for discriminating Balochistan.