Punjab budget shows real picture of economy: Hashim

772
APP09-17 LAHORE: October 17 - Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bukhat addressing a post budget press conference. APP photo by Mubarak Ali

 

LAHORE, Oct 17 (APP):Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat said on Wednesday that PTI government has presented its first budget for fiscal year 2018-19 which showed the
real picture of provincial economic situation.
He was addressing the post budget press conference here, where Provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Information Minister Fayazul Hassan, and officers of the departments concerned were also present.
Punjab Finance Minister said that despite severe financial crisis left by the previous regime, the present government was not going to impose any new tax in the current budget rather prefer to
improve Tax Collection Mechanism through effective reforms, adding that PTI Reform Agenda was people-friendly and centric on people of Pakistan.
To a question, he said that current FY budget would not only dispel the negative effects of fiscal indiscipline, corruption and malpractices of the past, but also pave the way for real development and prosperity of the masses.
Punjab’s development planning for next five years was being done keeping in view the factors including provision of basic amenities to the masses of food, education, health, employment and ‘Apna Ghar’ (own home).
The other major aspect of ‘Change’ was promotion of the industry and expansion of trade, which was possible through Ease of Doing Business, public-private partnership, control over expenditures
and reformation of tax collection system, he said and asserted that this aspect would get the homeland rid of the menace of heavy debt burden.
To another query, the minister said that in the past, such programmes were initiated in the name of mega projects which were actually meant for personal publicity of the former rulers, citing that the claimant of ‘public service’ (PML-N government) had termed ‘Orange Line Metro Train’ as their pride but the project had now become ‘bone in the throat’.
Former government declared that OLMT would cost Rs 165 billion, contrary to the fact that the project seemed to be incomplete even having over Rs 250 billion expenses. The PTI government would, however, complete this economically non-viable project, since the past government had wasted billions
of rupees of public exchequer on the OLMT, he maintained.
Provincial Finance Minister assured that PTI government would not resort to initiate mere cosmetic developmental programmes but make outcome-oriented and evidence-based planning so that people could realize and enjoy the fruit of ‘Real Change’.
To a question, Finance Minister said that present government was putting in place effective measures to ensure equitable distribution of resources and provision of equal opportunities to the people across the province to end regional disparity and alleviate poverty especially in far-flung areas.
Exposing the Rs 635 billion Annual Development Plan (ADP) in the FY 2017-18, he said that its actual utilization remained at Rs 411 billion while one-third of the past government’s ADP was contained to the budget document only.
He said that Punjab had always been considered as financially stable province but all at once, it faced with Rs 94 billion fiscal deficit, which in fact, entailed a long tale of corruption, embezzlement, and fiscal indiscipline committed by the former rulers. At the end of previous FY, the PML-N government’s borrowings had surpassed the figure of Rs 1,100 billion, he maintained.
To a question, he said that on the request of federal government, an amount of Rs 148 billion had been allocated as Surplus, keeping in view the severe financial crunch in the country, asserting that this amount would be retained with Punjab government and would be available in the next budget for development plan, for which a comprehensive strategy was being chalked out.
He mentioned that human development and social sectors were top priorities of the PTI government and ‘100-Day Reform Agenda’ announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan was the linchpin of the government’s planning. The ‘100-Day Plan’ would primarily ensure improvement in governance and social sectors, revival of economic growth, agricultural development and conservation of water resources, adding that national security and legislative reforms were also its basic elements.
PTI government, he said believed in a strong and comprehensive local governments system and intended to introduce revolutionary system in this regard for which legislation was being made speedily.

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat mentioned that despite fiscal constraints, the present government has decided not to impact or tax the sectors which affected the economic growth.
PTI government had allocated Rs 373 billion for Education sector which was Rs 28 billion higher than the previous FY and this was an ample proof of the PTI’s commitment toward this vital sector. Punjab government, he added, had also firm resolve to achieve all targets set under Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Health sector, he said, was being provided a total of Rs 284 billion with prime focus to make the health system accessible and affordable for the common man, asserting that this important sector was giving 14 percent of the Annual Developmental Plan (ADP) in the current FY against the eight percent in the last FY (2017-18).
Hashim Jawan Bakhat said that ‘Insaaf Sehat Card’ system was being introduced in Punjab under which ‘Health Insurance Programme’ would be launched in all the 36 districts of the province.
About provision of clean drinking water and drainage system, he said a hefty amount of Rs 20.5 billion was being earmarked in the ADP out of which Rs 12 billion would be spent on new schemes.
Agriculture sector’s total allocation in the current budget was Rs 93 billion while it was Rs 81.3 billion in the last FY, he said and elaborated that farmer would be given Rs 250,000 interest-free loans which account Rs 15 billion. The government was focusing to promote high-value crops and gardening and keeping in view the climate change, OPVs varieties were being introduced for Horticulture crops, besides establishment of Centre of Excellence of Olive Research.
Irrigation sector would get a total of Rs 19.5 billion, he said and asserted that Punjab government, for the first time, would launch Provincial Water Policy and Punjab Ground Water Act to ensure better use of available water, he said.
He said that provincial government had allocated Rs 149 billion for Infrastructure, citing that Rs 68 billion for Roads, Rs 35.5 billion for Transport, Rs 5 billion each for Rural Roads and Roads for interlinking main highways, and Rs 33 billion for Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT).
‘Clean and Green Punjab’ programme of PTI government would have long lasting benefit for the coming generations, he said and mentioned that with the support of World Bank, comprehensive reforms were being made in environment system under Punjab Green Development Programme (PGDP). He said that Environment Endowment Fund was being established with Rs 6.3 billion to cope with the problem of environmental pollution.
For Industrial and SMEs promotion, he said that SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) Support Programme was being initiated by Punjab government with partnership of Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC). Under this initiative, he said Entrepreneurial Development Programme was being launched with a cost of Rs six billion, while Rs four billion earmarked for Allama Iqbal Industrial Estate, Faisalabad.
Under E-Governance, details of all the developmental projects launched by PTI government would be available Online it would not only keep the people updated in this regard but also ensure transparency. The government was also introducing E-Procurement System to curb corruption and wastage of billions of rupees of public money.
With the implementation of best financial discipline in all the government departments, he said the unjustified and wastage of funds would be controlled in an effective manner. The government would have Rs 16 billion additional revenues through resource mobilization and also save up to Rs 80 billion through expenditure rationalization, and this money would be spent on developmental projects.