LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht Tuesday said the Punjab government will focus on utilisation of development expenditure and a body will be set up to monitor the spending on development projects.
While addressing a post-budget press conference here, the Minister said that since day one in power they have focused on human development rather than opting for ostentatious infrastructural projects; "we do not believe in 'visible development projects'. On the contrary, we invest in projects that directly benefit human beings, such as building or upgrading hospitals".
"For the first time in three years, the Punjab government presented a budget for economic development in line with its manifesto with a record annual development programme. In 2023 the people of Punjab will see visible changes in the province," he said.
When asked how the government will meet the development expenditures in an event of facing a shortfall in the federal revenue transfer, he said they have a cushion of Rs 125 billion, which will compensate for the shortfall. "As against the target of Rs 317 billion, we managed to generate Rs 359 billion. The 13.1 percent increase in provincial revenue generation gave us Rs 125 billion surplus budget," he added.
He averred that to control inflation, the price of wheat was increased from Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,800 and a subsidy of Rs 180 billion was given in a year to control the price of flour. "Rising global food prices have also affected Pakistan," he added.
Hr further said that under the Ehsaas programme, financial assistance was provided for the rehabilitation of 45 percent of the population. To another question, he said that to help the people below the poverty line have taken a number of initiatives including offering targeted subsidies, model bazaars set up in poor localities, and investing in agriculture productivity for stabilising essential commodity prices. "Moreover, to provide essential commodities at affordable prices to the masses we have established Punjab Sahulat Bazar Authority," he added.
According to him, the Punjab government has presented a public-friendly and growth-oriented budget for the next financial year 2021-22. The government has allocated Rs 80 billion rupees for its health insurance scheme, covering the entire population of the province. Moreover, it has increased the size of its development spending for the next fiscal by more than 66 percent to Rs 560 billion to fund the district development package. Also, they have given tax concessions to more than 25 services.
"The guiding principles adopted for the next fiscal development programme include growth-led investment, inclusive and balanced regional development, the transformation of the agriculture sector and human development through skills development.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021