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Rs 63.81 billion Balochistan budget unveiled

22 June, 2007

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QUETTA: Balochistan Minister for Finance Syed Ehsan Shah presented the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2007-08 in the provincial assembly here on Thursday. Speaker Jamal Shah chaired the session.

The new budget envisages a total outlay of Rs 63.081 billion against the total receipts of Rs 53.248 billion with a resource gap of Rs 10.278 billion.

The development expenditure is estimated at Rs 134.736 billion that also include Rs 3.332 billion for foreign assisted projects. Balochistan government will spend Rs 41.494 billion on current expenditure against a total revenue receipt of Rs 43.82 billion including income estimated from provincial resources at Rs 2.966 billion. Rs 40.86 billion are expected from the federal divisible pool.

Syed Ehsan Shah said that the deficit of Rs 10.278 billion will be met by increasing local income, economy measures and Federal Government assistance. He said that the province's cash balance is in a stable position thanks to the strict financial discipline and check on non essential expenditure and now there is no need for borrowing on higher interest rates.

He said that as a result of improvement in tax recoveries and cut in non development expenditure as well as through transparent financial system "we have been able to collect Rs 2.86 billion revenue against the target of Rs 2.50 billion".

He further said that under the strategy adopted by the provincial government with regard to debt retirement, soft loans had been obtained from Asian Development Bank (ADB) to replace the loans of higher rate of interest saving Rs one billion per annum.

The Finance Minister expressed his confidence that the heavy investments made in Balochistan would yield manifold benefits. Balochistan will have major share in the country's agriculture and commercial development. Completion of Mirani and Sabakzai dams and Kachhi canal would make the province agriculturally important and self reliance.

He hoped that Balochistan would also turn as a big centre of mineral production and business activities in the near future. The finance minister lauded the interest taken by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in over all development of Balochistan and for allocating huge funds for execution of mega projects.

He went on to say that the Federal government launched mega projects worth Rs 150 billion to bring the province at par with other provinces and brining prosperity to its people. He said the first phase of Gwadar port has since been completed at a cost of US $300 million with the generous assistance of the Chinese government. Similarly the government has approved a Rs 40 billion project to set up South Asia's largest oil city at Gwadar.

Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) has started 37 development schemes at a cost of Rs 36.11 billion while an international airport will also be built at Gwadar at a cost Rs 16.63 billion to boost trade and commerce. Besides he said standard gauge Railway line will be laid from Quetta to Zhob and a Railway line will also be stretched from Gwadar to Pakistan-Afghan border to facilitate cargo movement to and from Central Asian states, China and Afghanistan.

He said 575 water filter plants will be installed in the province during the new fiscal year with the assistance of federal and provincial governments. He said so far National Highways Authority (NHA) has completed 850 km of roads in the province while 650 km of roads are under construction from three points Sukkur, Multan and Dera Ismail Khan to provide efficient mode of travel and transportation.

He informed that so far 153 unemployed youth have been given internship of Rs 10,000 by the federal government and it would extend more such opportunities to the province. Balochistan youth are also being provided vocational training by Pakistan Army in its facilities in other provinces of the country while 200 boys are presently getting training at the EME centre Quetta, he added.

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