Social development spending continue to fall under PTI led Punjab government

Nearly 50% drop in social spending in Punjab 

Despite the tall claims of PTI leadership to spend more on social sector development, the budget allocations show that social sector spending continues to shrink under the PTI led provincial government in Punjab. PTI leadership was used to crticise the previous governments of PML-N and PPP for ignoring the social sector development. PTI leadership promised to increase the social spending on health, education and sanitation. But after coming into power, PTI government in Punjab is spending less on social sector development than PML-N government. 
The budget allocations show that the PML-N government had allocated over Rs 201 billion for social sector development in 2017-18, the outgoing year of the former ruling party in Punjab. 

The data showed that social sector spending has fallen by 53% in 2018-19 as the PTI government could hardly manage to allocate Rs93.6 billion during the last fiscal year. The data highlights that social sectors’ allocation has become stagnant as only Rs97.66 billion are allocated for the development programme of the forthcoming fiscal year.
Comparison of the PML-N’s last year in government and upcoming fiscal year’s ADP shows that budget allocation for education has dropped from Rs82.61 billion in 2017-18 to Rs 36.64 in 2020-21, a staggering decrease of over 55%. School education shows a decline of over 48% as the government has earmarked only Rs27.6 billion for the fiscal year 2020-21. Development budget for higher education witnessed a decline of over 78% as the PTI government allocated only Rs3.9 billion for the next financial year.
The budget documents pointed out that the special education sector has also been neglected as the government has allocated only Rs 555 million, showing a decrease of 48% when compared to the provincial Annual Development Programme of 2017-18. Literacy and non-formal basic education witnessed a decline of over 51% as the government has earmarked only Rs2.5 billion in the budget 2020-21
Similarly, sports and youth affairs show over 75% decline in development budget allocation as the government earmarked only Rs2.09 billion in the budget 2020-21.
The development budget for healthcare witnessed a decline of over 32% as it fell from Rs51.8 billion to Rs 34.93 billion for the fiscal year 2020-21. The budget allocation for primary and secondary healthcare shows a decline of over 54% as the government has allocated only Rs 11.46 billion for the next year's budget.
The budget documents showed that specialised healthcare and medical education allocation dropped from Rs25.26 billion to Rs 22.15 billion for financial year 2020-21, showing a decrease of over 12%. Similarly, population welfare development budget allocation also showed a decline of 12% as the government earmarked Rs1.32 billion for the department for the next financial year.
The documents showed that the development budget for water supply and sanitation has been slashed by over 79% as the government allocated only Rs11.86 billion for the sector for the next financial year. Social welfare allocation was cut by around 43% and the government allocated only Rs630 million for the coming financial year.
Official statistics highlight that former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif had presented the highest ever Rs 635 billion developments budget in 2017-18 – the last year of his term. Later, the government had to revise the ambitious budget estimates to Rs489 billion and it spent Rs411 billion on development.
After coming into power, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar’s government presented its first ADP of Rs238 billion in 2018-19, which was later revised to Rs 215 billion and the government spent only Rs 174 billion on development of the largest province of the country.

Similarly, the PTI-led provincial government presented its second ADP of Rs 350 billion in 2019-20, which was later revised to Rs 272 billion as the government failed to meet any revenue collection target. The budget documents showed that the government has hardly utilised Rs 174 on development by April 30. Now government is trying ti hide behind the COVID-19 outbreak in March that continue to spread.  
                                                                     Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor

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