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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Monday approved macroeconomic framework for the next fiscal year with a proposed GDP growth target of 4.8 percent.

The meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by chief ministers of all the provinces and other members of the NEC was presented annual development plan and proposed macroeconomic framework of the ongoing fiscal year for approval and growth targets of various sectors for the next fiscal year.

The NEC approved the Macroeconomic Framework and Annual Plan for the 2021-22 GDP as well as growth projections for the next fiscal year 2021-22 of 4.8 percent with sectoral growth targets of 3.5 percent for agriculture sector, 6.5 percent for the industrial sector, and 4.7 percent for the services sector.

The Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives presented the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2021-22, and stated that the revised estimates for the total development outlay of the ongoing year are of Rs 1,527 billion while total development outlay for the next financial year will be of over Rs 2,100 billion, including federal public sector development programme (PSDP) of Rs900 billion.

The meeting was informed that this includes Rs244 billion for transport and communications, Rs118 billion for energy, Rs91 billion for water resources, Rs113 billion for social sector, Rs100 billion for regional equalization, Rs31 billion for science and technology and IT sector, Rs 68 billion for the SDGs, and Rs17 billion for production sector.

The NEC was further informed that the focus of the PSDP will be on infrastructure improvement, water resources development, social sector improvement, regional equalization, skill development, promotion of science and technology, and IT, as well as climate change mitigation measures.

The ministry further told the meeting that the PSDP would cater to the government’s plans to increase focus on lagging areas and regions.

And for this purpose, sufficient allocations have been made for projects of southern Balochistan, various districts of Sindh, as well as for Gilgit-Baltistan.

The meeting was also informed that allocations have also been made for infrastructure projects of southern districts of Punjab.

Similarly, an allocation of Rs54 billion has been made for the newly-merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In the social sectors, the Higher Education Commission has been allocated Rs42 billion.

The Planning Ministry also informed the NEC that with the operationalisation of the public-private partnership (PPP) authority, a number of PPP projects are also being expeditiously processed for implementation.

These include Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway and Sialkot-Kharian Motorway, which are at an advanced stage.

While other major projects such as Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), KPT-PIPRI Freight Corridor, Kharian – Rawalpindi Motorway, Balkasar–Mianwali Road, Quetta–Karachi- Chaman Highway are also likely to be launched during the year.

The government has, for the first time ever, made an allocation of Rs61 billion in the PSDP for financing the viability gap of PPP projects, to make sure that the PPP projects can be successfully implemented.

Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah reportedly stated at the meeting that grave injustice was being done to his province in terms of providing development funds. According to him, allocation of funds for the province has been lessened. As the funds are being provided to other provinces Sindh should also be provided funds in the same manner, he said and added that no funds have been allocated for two development schemes of the province. He said the province was not consulted with respect to development projects.

He was reported as talking to media that his province was being given less development budget and the Finance Division has not been releasing funds for development budget.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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