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Education and health take the lead

Shift of emphasis from physical to social infrastructure makes perfect sense. PHOTO TARIQ HASSAN/EXPRESS

LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): For the first time in the country’s history, allocations for education and health sectors have taken the lead in both federal and provincial government develop budgets. These sectors had always been big ticket items in the non-development budgets. Development budgets for these sectors have historically seen only modest increases. Departing from this norm, the major part of the 2016-17 budget speech was devoted to education and health sectors. It did not seem to be mere rhetoric. Sizeable financial allocations were announced, with double digit increases. More than half of the budget has been earmarked for the priority sectors of education, health, water supply and sanitation, agriculture and law and order. The social sector is the major beneficiary in the hefty increase of Rs150 billion in the development budget, which now stands at Rs550 billion.

In the development budget, the allocation for education, health and water supply and sanitation is Rs168.87 billion (31 per cent). Compared to 2015-16, allocation for education has increased by 47 per cent; for heath by 62 per cent; and for provision of clean water by 88 per cent. Such increases in budgetary allocations are unknown in the province’s history.

In the education sector, the higher education has traditionally received preferential treatment at the cost of other sub-sectors. This time, however, the chief minister seems to have put his confidence in schools education. The budget for this sub-sector has received a massive increase of 71 per cent.

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