PESHWAR (Khyber Mail): The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Finance Minister, Aftab Alam, unveiled a surplus budget of Rs 1754 billion for the fiscal year 2024-25 on Friday, with a surplus of Rs 100 billion. The budget, which was presented in the assembly, projects expenses of Rs 1,654 billion and emphasizes social protection, peace, job creation, and economic growth, as directed by Chief Minister Ali Ameen Gandapur.

The budget proposes a 10% raise in government employee salaries and pensions and an increase in the minimum wage from Rs 32000 to Rs 36000. The KP government expects to receive a total of Rs 1754 billion during the fiscal year 2024-25 from various sources, including Rs 1212.036 billion from the federal government under Federal Tax Assignment, one percent of the divisible pool on war on terror, and Straight Transfer under the head of royalties and surcharge on oil and gas, windfall levy, and net hydel profit.

The KP government has made significant strides in increasing its income in recent years and has set a revenue target of Rs 93.5 billion for the fiscal year 2024-25. The government plans to expand the tax base rather than raise taxes, and has taken several steps to reform sales tax, property tax, tobacco tax, cess, and other taxes.

The budget reduces the sales tax rate on various online services and hotels, and mandates the use of the Restaurant Invoice Management System by hotels. A fixed sales tax rate has been proposed for wedding halls. The government has also reduced property tax and the tax on commercial property, and has proposed an increase in tobacco development cess to boost income from tobacco production.

The budget allocates Rs 362.7 billion for the education sector, Rs 228.8 billion for the health sector, Rs 140.6 billion for peace and order, Rs 60.5 billion for roads and infrastructure, Rs 8.1 billion for social welfare, Rs 2 billion for minerals, Rs 7.5 billion for industry and commerce, Rs 9.6 billion for tourism, Rs 28.6 billion for agriculture, and Rs 30.8 billion for the energy sector.

The current expenditure for the settled districts for the fiscal year 2024-25 is estimated at Rs 1093.087 billion, while the current expenditure for the merged districts is estimated at Rs 144.628 billion. The government has allocated Rs 416.284 billion for development expenditures for settled and merged districts.

The minister stated that the budget 2024-25 is not just a financial document, but also a roadmap for the province’s development and prosperity, reflecting the government’s commitment to social justice and gender equality. He concluded by expressing gratitude to the finance department and planning and development for their efforts in drafting the budget document.

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