As per the established traditions, a routine Balochistan Budget was tabled before the Balochistan Assembly for a debate within days to give it a formal approval. There is no chance that there will be any changes in the Budget.
For the Ministers and Members of Provincial Assembly, regardless of the political divide, the Public Sector Development Programme continues to attract their interest for obvious reasons. There was an exchange of unpleasant words as the Interior Minister claimed that Dera Bugti, his ‘constituency’, had been ignored in allocating funds in the PSDP.
The whole year, the Members prefer to discuss the PSDP for extracting more and more share. However, there were some positive developments in the traditional budget as the Government had earmarked Rs 10 billion for launching the Balochistan Bank that will operate on commercial basis.
It will function on the pattern of Sindh Bank and Punjab Bank and also function as the Government treasury in certain remote areas. Hopefully, the Balochistan Bank should be a game changer boosting the local economy, creating jobs and boosting production adding to the prosperity of the people in general.
The time is ripe for launching the commercial bank with a view to boost the Provincial economy which should prove a stimulant to mega projects of Balochistan. It is a good decision of the Government to establish the Balochistan Bank as other banks failed to come to the right expectations of the poor people of this province. Most of the commercial banks were found reluctant to provide relief and assistance to the local people in all parts of Balochistan.
Another important decision is that the Government will provide solar powers to a number of schools, hospitals and Government building besides the Federal Government had already launched the plan to provide solar power to tube-wells both for irrigation and drinking water supply.
The Power Transmission Line proved to be junk at the moment and unable to take load of 500 MW at a time while Balochistan needs around 1600 MW. The Federal Finance Minister in his budget speech did mention about the off grid solution. But he offered no scheme for Balochistan in this regard. We suggest to the Government to take up the issue of Wind Power plant for Nokkundi region where strong and stormy winds are blowing constantly round-the-year.
The Iranian Government on the other end of the same desert had established a huge wind power plant and it is benefiting the local people. Nokkundi is known for its rich resources, mainly the metal mines, and it deserves that the Government should establish a huge wind power plant to cater the need of the entire area, including the future giant metal mining projects of Reko Dik and Saindak or the iron ore deposits scattered in Chagai District.
Nokkundi should be the prime beneficiary for the wind power or solar power projects. Yet another good decision is providing 7000 jobs to an army of one million jobless people. There is no word about the 35,000 jobs announced by the Government in the recent past. More shrewd senior bureaucrats were found leaking the stories that only a couple of hundred jobs were advertised and there was no further movement on plan to provide jobs to 35,000 people. It implied that the Government is in no mood to provide 35,000 jobs at the moment.
There is a strong need for proper economic planning and infrastructure development so that more than a million people should get jobs or earn a decent living. This can be done by improving irrigation system of giant Pat Feeder project, conserving water using modern techniques or using trickle system of irrigation, stop stealing canal water by influential people, lining of canals so that there is no seepage of canal water.
The water logged and saline land should be reclaimed. Kachhi Canal should be completed in shortest possible time as it had already consumed more than half a century. The Balochistan Government should insist that the canal system should be lined and there should be quality construction.
In any case, agriculture, livestock, fisheries and Mines and Minerals are the only sectors that can create a million jobs or more, boost production, raise revenue of the Government which is stagnated at Rs 7 billion in terms of local taxes and another Rs 5 billion as non-tax revenue.