PESHAWAR, Jun 19 (APP):The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government here Friday presented Rs 923billion tax free budget with maximum allocation of Rs124billion for health, Rs317.8bln for development expenditure including Rs221.9 billion for settled districts and Rs95.9 billion for merged tribal districts.
Presenting the budget for financial year 2020-21 in the Khyber Pakhtnkhwa Assembly, the Finance Minister Taimour Salim Jhagra said that total outlay of the budget was pitched Rs923 billion including Rs739.1 billon for settled districts and Rs183.9billion for merged districts.
About the ongoing expenditure, the Finance Minister said that a total of Rs605.2 billion were allocated for settled ie Rs517.2 billion and merged districts ie Rs88 billion.
Regarding development expenditure, he said a total of Rs317.8 billion were earmarked including Rs221.9 billion for settled districts and Rs95.9 billion for merged districts.
He said a record Rs124 billion were allocated for health sector for settled and merged districts, adding the budget for settled districts have increased from Rs87 billion of outgoing fiscal to Rs105.9 billion for upcoming fiscal year.
For development budget in health sector, he said a total of Rs24.4 billion were allocated including Rs13.8 billion for settled district andRs10.6 for merged tribal districts.
He said Govt will focus to ensure adequate stock of equipment, medicines and increasing strength of doctors in public sector hospitals besides providing Sehat Insaf cards to every family of the province and in this regard Rs10 billion were allocated.
He said Rs36 billion earmarked for MTI hospitals including Rs26 billion for MTIs current budget and Rs4 billion for completion of key projects besides Rs six billion for special demand funds for improving healthcare system in major hospitals.
Shortage of infrastructure and equipment in basic health units would be overcome and for this purpose Rs13 billion project would be launched in collaboration with World Bank.
Similarly, budget has been increased from Rs2.5 billion to four billion rupees for procurement of medicines in healthcare facilities besides acquiring services of private sectors with allocation of Rs one billion for waste management of hospitals.
The Minister said separately Rs24 billion were allocated for emergency corona relief fund to combat the deadly virus. Out of the total amount, Rs 15 billion would go for settled districts and Rs9 billion for merged areas.

The Finance Minister said maximum relief has been provided in taxes in budget 2020-21, adding the reforms in the KP Revenue Authority(KPRA) has yielded results as the income has been enhanced from Rs10 billion to Rs17 billion.
Despite COVID-19 challenges, the total income was estimated as Rs36 billion for this year which is 20pc more than the last year and had COVID-19 not surfaced the total income would have crossed Rs45 billion.

Salim Jhagra said special aspect of the budget was tax relief and tax reforms, adding it was a tax free budget 2020-21 as neither new tax has been imposed nor tax rate was enhanced.

Highlighting tax relief measures, the minister said the local government department has abolished taxes on 200 SMEs.

Accordingly, excise and taxation department has also abolished concerned provincial taxes on small businesses and persons to avoid tax duplication, he said, adding hotel tax and professional taxes would be abolished on all hotels and more than 18 professionals provided these people get their business registered with KPRA.

“Entertainment tax has been abolished altogether.” To increase vehicles registration in KP, he said NOC’s condition from other provinces has been withdrawn.

Taimour Jhagra said sales tax rate on 27 categories has been reduced and restaurants which installed point of sales software tax rate would reduce from eight percent to 5pc.

The KP Government has decided to uphold incentives on CVT and stamp duty to promote construction sector.

“Those professional categories, which were registered with KPRA were exempted from taxes include import and exports licenses holders, clearing agents/customs house agents, travel agents, restaurants, guest houses, professional caterers, lawn or marriage halls, advertisement agencies, doctors, diagnostic and therapeutic centres, contractors, suppliers and consultants, petrol, diesel, CNG, filing stations, all establishment including video shops, real estate agencies, car dealers, net café, chartered accountants, service stations, transporters, stock exchange members, money changers, health centres, gymnasiums and cable operators,” he said.

Finance Minister Taimour Salim Jhagra said Rs73billion would be provided to merged areas under 10 years development program and during first three years focus would be made on education, health, employment and economic development while in the second phase concentration would given to infrastructure, roads and other mega projects with special focus on quick resulted oriented projects in the third phase.
Giving details of the uplift schemes and allocation for different sectors in merged areas, the Minister said Rs1 billion allocated for provision of medicines, medical supplies at hospitals, Rs1 billion for medical and non medical equipment, Rs 1 billion for recruitment of doctors in remote areas, Rs800 million for six types D hospitals through health foundation, Rs700 million for services of 100 specialist consultants, Rs10 million for regional blood centre, Rs100 million for nurses and paramedics recruitment, and Rs50 million for establishment of trauma centres at districts headquarters hospitals in merged districts.
For education sector, the KP Government has allocated Rs3.7 billion for provision of stipends to male and female students of merged areas, Rs 2 billion for provision of basic and fulfillment of missing facilities through parents teachers committees, Rs 500 million for free books, Rs400 million for science and IT labs establishment, Rs 250 million for upgradation of 73 high schools to higher secondary level and 69 middle schools to high schools, Rs 50 million for education voucher schemes, Rs50 million for land acquirement for existing public colleges and construction of new buildings, Rs 490 million for transport facilities to colleges students and Rs 200 million for stipends to college students in merged areas.
The finance minister said the Government was also giving special attention on sports and tourism uplift in merged areas by allocating Rs1.2 billion for establishment and improvement of sports facilities in the budget 2020-21, Rs1.15 billion for youth development, Rs400 million for sports promotion, Rs100 million for startup program and Rs100 million for holding art and culture events in merged districts.