Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday presented Rs 1.477 trillion tax-free budget for financial year 2021-22 amid protest by the opposition on the floor of the provincial assembly. The chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, in his budget speech said that the development expenditure of the province is estimated at Rs 329.032 billion, which include Rs 222.5 billion for Provincial ADP and Rs 30.0 billion for Districts ADP. “I am pleased to announce that for next financial year we are not proposing any new tax,” he said, adding that the total budget outlay for Financial Year 2021-22 is estimated at Rs 1.477 trillion, as against budget estimate of Rs 1.241 trillion for the current year, showing overall increase of 19%. The current expenditure of the province is projected at Rs 1.14 trillion, which includes current revenue expenditure of Rs 1.089 trillion and current capital expenditure of Rs 59.49 billion. This is 78% of total expenditure of the province and shows an increase of 14% over estimates of Rs 1 trillion for last year. “It is important to highlight here that for the next financial year, we have tried to align our development as well as non-development expenditure priorities in line with the post Covid-19 situation,” he added. The total receipts of province for financial year 2021-22 are estimated at Rs 1.452 trillion as against budget estimate of Rs 1.22 trillion for the current year, showing overall increase of 19%. Receipts from federal government on account of revenue assignment, straight transfers and grants are estimated at Rs 869.68 billion, which constitute 72.5% of total receipts of the province. It is an increase of 12.6%, over estimates of Rs.760.3 billion of last year. However, the budget estimates of straight transfers for next year have decreased substantially by approximately 20.6% to Rs 49.5 billion from the budget estimates of Rs 62.34 billion of the current fiscal year. Receipts of fPSDP are estimated at Rs 5.37 billion. Receipts on account of foreign project assistance (FPA), budgetary support loans and grants are estimated at Rs 71 billion. Receipts from provincial own sources on account of tax and non-tax receipts are estimated at Rs 329.033 billion, which constitute 27.5% of total receipts. This is an increase of 4.8% over estimates of Rs 313.4 billion of current year. Murad said that 1033 schemes have been identified for the next financial year 2021-22 for completion in first and second quarter and maximum resources will be provided for their timely completion. The chief minister said that health remains a priority sector. After advent of Covid-19, the government re-prioritized its allocation and earmarked maximum resources in 2020-21 for prevention, isolation, and treatment for Covid-19; besides, significant resources were also spent containing and mitigating the economic damage due to job loss and business closure. He said that for the next financial year, an allocation of Rs 172 billion was proposed as against an allocation of Rs132.88 billion in 2020-21. For the new FY, the ADP of health is pitched at Rs 18.5 billion. The next financial year will witness an increase of 30% in total allocation for Health Sector including medical education. Moreover, Rs 7.6 billion has been allocated in next financial year 2021-22 with an overall increase of 10% for 9 vertical Programs to combat/control Polio, TB, Aids, Lady Health Worker Program, Hepatitis control, and expanded program for Immunization and others. The overall 45% increase of Rs 2.846 billion is proposed in medical education by enhancing its budget from Rs 6.294 billion to Rs 9.141 billion in budget 2021-22. He said that the ADP of medical education is pitched at Rs 1.15 billion for 2021-22. Murad said that education was the single most important factor in the development of a nation. Thus the government has allocated the highest percentage of resources towards education in the year 2021-22. It will see an increase of 13.5% over allocation of current financial year. “For the next financial year, we have proposed to enhance the budget for education to Rs 277.5 billion from Rs 244.5 billion,” he added. Earlier, the Sindh cabinet approved a 20 per cent increase in salaries of government employees, besides setting the minimum wage at Rs 25,000 in the province, according to its spokesperson Murtaza Wahab. The decision came hours before the budget for the new fiscal year was set to be introduced in the provincial assembly. “Sindh Cabinet has approved an increase of 20pc in the salary of Govt employees & also set the minimum wage at Rs25,000 in the province,” Wahab tweeted, hours before the budget was to be introduced in the provincial assembly. “No new tax is being introduced by Sindh Govt,” he added.