Focus on climate change, yet allocations meager
The government has conceded that climate change is a critical subject which impacts several walks of life. But it is still reluctant to put its money where its mouth is, allocating around Rs10 billion for the sector.
During his speech on the floor of the National Assembly on Friday evening, Federal Finance Minister pointed repeatedly to the importance of climate change and the environment.
“We are not oblivious of the importance of climate changes in a difficult time like this,” Ismail said.
At a different point during the speech when talking about agriculture, he said, that the government will take steps to “counter the negative effects of climate changes.”
To demonstrate this, he announced the launch of the ‘Green Youth Movement’ to productively engage the youth on climate change.
He went on to announce that the government was setting aside Rs10 billion for climate change division.
What the minister failed to mention and which was contained in the budget documents, was that last year, the government had allocated Rs14.327 billion for the division as part of the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP).
The documents further reveal that the government has allocated Rs9.8 billion for the incoming fiscal year. This is nominally higher than the Rs9.579 billion which the government actually spent on the division in the outgoing fiscal year.
The demand-wise expenditures listed for the fiscal year 2022-23 for the Climate Change Division showed a development budget allocation of Rs9.750 billion. However, a separate document listed the PSDP size for the climate change division as Rs9.6 billion.
Further non-development expenditure of Rs601 million was listed in the budget documents.
There are no exact monetary allocations for the Green Youth Movement.
A similar allocation was made for Environment Protection with a development allocation of Rs9.750 billion.
The non-development / current account expenditure listed was Rs749 million for the fiscal year 2022-23. This was in contrast to the Rs436 million allocated and Rs452 million spent in the outgoing fiscal year.
A break-up showed that Rs187 million has been proposed for research and development and another Rs562 million for administration expenses.
While no funds were shown to have been allocated for research previously, the documents showed that Rs436 million were allocated and Rs452 million were spent on administration. The documents at one point also included wastewater management but no other details were provided.
Disaster and emergency
Recognizing the impact that climate change has, the government has maintained its allocation of Rs631 million for the National Disaster Management Authority.
Another billion rupees was set aside for the National Disaster Risk Management Fund - maintaining the allocation which was made in the previous fiscal year.
The budget documents showed that while the government had allocated Rs1 billion for the disaster management fund, the government ended up spending Rs2.3 billion.
An Emergency Relief and Repatriation Fund of Rs393 million was also allocated in addition to an Rs100 billion emergency/Covid fund.