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Punjab Budget: Rs5b Cut For Health, ADP Stands at Rs350b Against Rs635b Reserved by PML-N in 2017-18

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Notwithstanding the PTI’s criticism of the PML-N for not spending more on social sector, but the Punjab government has reduced the health budget for the next fiscal by Rs5 billion compared to the current financial year.

DAWN reported that contrary to the official claim, the government allocated Rs279 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year, whereas the caretaker government had allocated Rs 284 billion for 2018-19.

Presenting the budget in the provincial assembly on Friday, Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht claimed 20 percent increase in the health allocation but the budget document painted a different picture. Out of the total allocation for the next fiscal, the government earmarked Rs144.9 billion for the specialized healthcare and medical education department (SH&MED) and Rs133.9 billion for the primary and secondary healthcare department (P&SHD).

And the story is the same when it comes to the Annual Development Programme (ADP). Although the allocation has been increased for 2019-20 to Rs350 billion from Rs238 billion in the outgoing fiscal year, this 47 per cent increase fails to match the allocation of Rs635 billion made by the Shahbaz Sharif government in 2017-18.

The provincial minister said keeping in view of PTI’s stated priorities of social protection, human development and regional equalisation, a sum of Rs125 billion or 35.7 per cent of the total ADP had been allocated for social sectors.

“Around 35 per cent of the ADP will be apportioned for south Punjab under the regional equalisation policy for bringing the less developed areas on a par with the developed ones,” he said.

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Major initiatives in the ADP include expansion of health insurance scheme to all 36 districts, construction of four dams, taming of hill torrents at three sites, enhancing productivity of four main crops (wheat, rice, sugarcane, oilseed), establishment of four universities and 63 colleges, rural accessibility plan worth Rs15bn, infrastructure development of three large industrial estates, and setting up of model agriculture markets.

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