No improvement witnessed in utilisation of Education Budgets

Islamabad:April 28:Though there was visible increase in the education budget for all provinces in the year 2015-16, no improvement was witnessed in the utilisation of educational budgets. The issue was discussed extensively at the ‘National Policy Dialogue on Public Financing of Education in Pakistan 2010-11 to 2015-16 and Education Budget Proposal 2016-17, organised by Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAP) on Wednesday. Reports titled ‘Public Financing of Education in Pakistan: Analysis of Federal, Provincial and District Budgets 2010-11 to 2015-16’ was also launched on the occasion. The report analyses education expenditure of the federal, provincial and district governments and pattern of allocation and expenditure at the aggregate and sub sector level at the federal, provincial and district levels over the past six years. The research shows that Pakistan’s literacy rate stands 58 per cent in 2015 which was 30 per cent short of 2015 targets and net primary enrolment ration remained 57 per cent. Total 2.1 per cent GDP was allocated for education. In terms of ‘Provincial Development Budget Utilization,’ Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) scored highest with 93 per cent budget utilisation where as Punjab utilised only 46 per cent of the allocated budget, Sindh utilised 58 per cent and Balochistan utilised 64 per cent of the total education budget. The report says that the share of education in total provincial budgets is declining except for Balochistan. This year, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has allocated the highest share of its provincial budget for education, i.e., 25 per cent. The other three provinces have each earmarked 20 per cent of their overall budgets for education in 2015-16. The share of education has declined from 26 per cent of total budget in 2013-14 to 20 per cent in 2015-16 for Punjab. For Sindh, it has gone down from 23 per cent of its total budget in 2013-14 to 20 per cent this year whereas for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the decline has been 4 per cent; from 29 per cent of its total budget in 2013-14 to 25 per cent in 2015-16. For Balochistan, an increase has been reported in the share of education over the last three years starting from 18 per cent in 2013-14 to 20 per cent of the total budget in 2015-16. On the other hand, overall education budget in provinces increased in 2014-15. The highest increase of 19 per cent in allocations has been reported for Balochistan followed by 12 per cent for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 10 per cent for Punjab and 7 per cent increase for Sindh. The development budgets for education in case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been slashed by 15 per cent in 2015-16 compared with previous year's allocated budgets. In 2014-15, the governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan had allocated Rs26.1 billion and Rs11.7 billion respectively for development purposes, however, these have been reduced to Rs22.2 billion and Rs10.02 billion respectively in 2015-16 presenting a decline of 15 per cent in both cases. Despite significant share of provincial budgets apportioned for education, a portion of the allocated budget remains unspent. In 2014-15, the government of Sindh spent only 79 per cent of its education budget whereas for Punjab, 18 per cent of the education budget remained unspent. The percentage expensed budget remained quite high in case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (96 per cent expenditure) and Balochistan (95 per cent expensed budget). Recurrent budget receives major share of the allocated budgets for all the provinces. The highest share of recurrent budget has been recorded for Sindh this year with an allocated share of 91 per cent followed by Punjab with 85 per cent of its education budget earmarked for the purpose. As many as 81 per cent of the education budget of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 79 per cent of the total budget for Balochistan has been earmarked for recurrent budget in 2015-16. Speaking on this occasion, Minister of State Engineer Muhammad Baligh-Ur-Rehman said that such reports are very useful not only for the educationist but for the government as well. “Government must know that where it is lacking in education budgeting and public financing, a healthy dialogue on such a pertinent issue is extremely beneficial for the education. But we must not forget about our present constraints along with the improvements that have been occurred in education system over the period of time,” said the minister.The news.