Punjab govt presented people-friendly budget despite odds: Leghari

LAHORE, Jun 17 (APP):Provincial Minister Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari has said that in the given difficult economic situation in Punjab, the present government presented a people-friendly budget for FY 2022-23 with focus on providing social protection to the common man.

Addressing the post budget conference here on Friday, he added that the balanced and pro-poor budget has a total outlay of Rs 3,226 billion with a hefty amount of Rs 685 billion for Annual Development Programme (ADP) and no new tax has been imposed in the budget.

Leghari said that Rs 685 billion development budget (ADP) will be utilized on sectors which will help resolve the problems of price-hike, energy crisis and social disparity. He explained that 40 percent (Rs 272.6 billion) of the ADP will go to Social Sector entailing education, health, water supply and sanitation, women development and social welfare; 24 percent to Infrastructure (roads, bridges, buildings etc.); 6 percent to Production (industry), 02 percent to Service sector, and 28 percent to other public welfare-oriented programmes and special initiatives.

Leghari said that global financial crunch, high crude oil prices and decreased exports of the country were the major factors marred Pakistan’s economy. While the PTI led previous government, he added, had also played havoc with the provincial economy on all fronts particularly the CPEC due to its bad governance and inapt handling of the affairs. The last three and half years of PTI led coalition government had been worst years in terms of development, he added.

Providing relief to under-privileged segments of society is the top most priority of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, therefore, government has set aside Rs 200 billion for Awami Relief Package for provision of wheat flour on subsidized price of Rs 490 per 10kg bag instead of Rs 650, he said.

In addition to this, a mega discount package is being launched under which the poor people will be provided edible, grocery and other commodities as well as travelling facilities on discounted rates. The poor farmers will also be provided fertilizers and agricultural inputs on subsidized rate, he said and added that a hefty amount of Rs 142 billion has been allocated for this package.

He said that maintaining its track record, the present government is not going to impose any new tax and continue with the policy of putting no burden on the lower strata of the society regarding tax revenue collection.

The government is adhering to a people-friendly policy of bringing the influential and wealthy people into tax club, he added.

The Provincial Minister disclosed that there will be no new sales tax (ST) on services during next fiscal year, adding that besides giving relief in sales tax on services, no ST slab is increased on any service so as to facilitate the small businesses. However, in order to increase the own tax revenues of the province, stamp duty for urban areas is being increased from one to two percent, he maintained.

The government is focused to bring the privileged class into tax net, and exempt the deserving and low income class from various taxes. In this regard, he said, tax schedule on luxury houses under the Punjab Finance Act 2014 is being revised and new rates will be introduced as per area. Similarly, revised e-auction policy is being launched for the unique registration numbers of vehicles, he added.

Previous PTI government had altogether ignored Social Protection Authority, established by PML-N government during its last tenure with an objective to facilitate the marginalized segments of the society, he said and added that the present government has allocated Rs 1.4 billion funds for the Authority under which senior citizens will receive Rs 2000 financial assistance per month. In addition, special schemes will be launched for the special persons, transgenders, and widows.

A sum of Rs 528 billion has been allocated for Local governments, he said and asserted that with the cooperation of Asian Development Bank, the sewerage system, solid waste management and master plan for better urban planning will be introduced in seven cities of the province under the PICIIP (Punjab Intermediate Cities Investment Improvement Programme) with an estimated cost of USD 600 million, adding that these cities are Rawalpindi, Multan, Sargodha, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, D.G.Khan and Rahim Yar Khan.
The Minister said under Saaf Dehaat (Clean Village) Programme, Municipal Services will be provided in villages consisting of more than 2000 houses. Rs 500 million will be spent on improving the condition of general bus stands in Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Khushab and another Rs 500 million will be utilized on improvement of slaughter houses in Khushab, Jhang, Narowal and Sargodha, he added.
He said that since the energy crisis is affecting all sectors of life, the Punjab government is very much focused on energy sector development and going to allocate Rs 05 billion for Energy Department.

He said that water supply and irrigation schemes and WASAs are being switched over solar energy system throughout the province and for this purpose, Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated.

Awais Leghari said that 35 percent (240 billion) of the development budget has been allocated for Southern Punjab. It will be ensured that each penny of this grant is utilized in the southern districts of the province. The last PTI government used to make tall claims of huge spending on south Punjab but ground reality belied its claims as they failed to deliver in that part of the province as well, he added.

He said that agriculture sector’s total budget would be Rs 53.19 billion with Rs 14.77 billion for development projects including Rs 3.65 billion for agricultural transformation projects.

A hefty grant of Rs 35 billion has been earmarked for repair and rehabilitation of roads (2000km) under infrastructural sector throughout the province to make easy, safe and comfortable traveling of people from and to various destinations, he added.

The Minister said the government has also set aside Rs 80.77 billion, 39 percent higher than current FY’s allocation, for infrastructural sector’s development, adding that out this budget, 149 new schemes will be launched, while Rs 13.5 billion will be utilized on ring projects of Multan and Sialkot.

He said the government has also allocated Rs 6 billion for Correctional Facilities Revamping Programme of Prisons and Prisoners Welfare Programme that will definitely ensure due facilities to the prisoners.

Similarly, he said, another grant of Rs 3.6 billion has been allocated for repair and revamping of safe city cameras and other equipment under Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) as well as extension of this project. The improved monitoring of roads, traffic and infrastructures means low rate of crimes, he remarked.

Industrial sector will carve out its share of Rs 23.83 billion from the annual provincial budget for FY 2022-23.

He added that out of this chunk, Rs 12.53 billion will be utilized on the development side of the sector. The major development projects of industrial sector include enhancing capacity of Tainjin University and establishment of Mir Chakar Khan Rind University with an accumulative Rs 8.25 billion cost of the both, he said and added that in addition to this, Bahawalpur Industrial Estate is being established for which Rs 370 million has been earmarked. He said that Rs 2.10 billion have been allocated for up-gradation and provision of water and power facilities in Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad; Rs 185 million for provision of missing facilities in Quaid-i-Azam Business Park; Rs 02 billion for Small Industrial Estate (Phase-II) Sargodha; and Rs 1.16 billion for Leather City Kasur.