The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led Punjab government presented the provincial budget for the fiscal year of 2019-20 on Friday in the Punjab Assembly with a total outlay of more than Rs 2.3 trillion.Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht delivered the budget speech, announcing that Rs 350 billion had been allocated for the development projects, while Rs 1.71 trillion were earmarked for the non-development expenditures. Sharing the details of the provincial budget, the finance minister said that the General Revenue Receipts were estimated at Rs 1.99 trillion, while Punjab was likely to get Rs 1,601.46 billion by the federal government under the National Finance Commission (NFC) award. Punjab is also likely to collect Rs 388.4 billion as provincial taxes. The total estimate for the ongoing expenditures is made at Rs 1,298.8 billion that also includes Rs 337.6 billion for salaries, Rs 244.9 billion for pensions and Rs 437.1 billion for the local governments. The finance minister started criticising the previous governments in the beginning of his speech as he said that southern Punjab was deprived of Rs 265 billion during the last seven years and, therefore, regional equalisation was among the priorities of this budget. The budget was formulated on three priorities that included social protection, human development and regional equalisation, he said. According to Bakht, the development budget had been increased by 47 percent from the last year’s budget despite the poor state of economy. “In the development budget, Rs 125 billion have been earmarked for the social sector, Rs 88 billion for infrastructure development, Rs 34 billion for production sector, Rs 21 billion for services sector, Rs 23 billion for special programmes and Rs 42 billion for public private partnership,” he said. Under the Punjab Ehsas Programme, Rs 3 billion were earmarked for the elderly people, Rs 3.5 billion for disabled persons, Rs 2 billion for widows and orphans and Rs 200 million for the transgender community.For health, the finance minister said that the PTI government was bringing the largest ever budget for the health sector in the history of Punjab, as Rs 279 billion had been earmarked for the health sector and this amount was 20 percent higher than the last budget of the PML-N government. “As many as nine modern hospitals will be established with an amount of Rs 40 billion in Lahore, Mianwali, Layyah, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Multan and Rajanpur,” he said, adding that Rs 2 billion were allocated for the Sehat Insaf Card that would be expanded to all 36 districts of the province. He said an amount of Rs 383 billion had been allocated for the education sector, and said that six new universities would be established in Murree, Chakwal, Mianwali, Bhakkar and Rawalpindi. He also announced that Rs 2 billion would be released to complete 63 colleges, while Rs 1.76 billion had been set aside to provide missing facilities at 68 colleges of Punjab. He said a hefty amount of Rs 8 billion had been allocated for the recently established ‘Aab-e-Pak Authority’ to provide clean drinking water to the people of Punjab. “The Punjab government believes in equal distribution of resources in all the regions and, therefore, 35 percent of the development budget would be spent for the uplift of southern Punjab, and the Punjab government has put a ban on spending this amount in any area other than southern Punjab,” he said. Sharing details of some projects for the region, the finance minister said that Nishtar II Hospital in Multan, IT University Phase 2 in Rahim Yar Khan, Institute of Cardiology in DG Khan and a children’s hospital in Bahawalpur would also be established by the Punjab government. Moreover, the Punjab government would establish a cardiology hospital in Quetta and a Technical Training Centre in Kharan for the people of Balochistan to give a message of national unity, he said.“The Punjab government has increased the agriculture budget by 100 times as compared to last year. The government will give a subsidy of Rs 7.85 billion on the seeds and fertilisers to facilitate the poor farmers,” said the finance minister. He said the provincial government had decided to plant 550 million trees in the next five years to control the impact of environment pollution and an amount of Rs 3.43 billion had been allocated for the purpose in this budget. The finance minister further said that the industrial sector also played a vital role for the progress of the economy and it also generated new opportunities of employment. “Therefore, we have decided to establish special economic zones in different parts of the province. A major industrial hub will be established in Faisalabad with the cost of Rs 23 billion and it will be named as Allama Iqbal Industrial City,” he added. He said the promotion of tourism industry was an integral part of the government’s economic policy, so The Punjab Tourism Authority would be established soon. “The Punjab government has identified nine potential points for the promotion of tourism in this regard for commercial benefits,” he said. Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi adjourned the session to meet again on Monday afternoon after the Punjab Finance Bill 2019 was introduced in the House. The general discussion on the Punjab budget would be opened by the speech of leader of the opposition on Monday.