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Rs2.1tr national budget agreed for development


MAY 18, (DNA) – The Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) on Wednesday finalised a national development budget outlay at Rs 2,113 billion, including a federal Public Sector Development Programme of Rs 1,001 billion and provincial Annual Development Programmes of Rs 1,112 billion for the next financial year.

The committee decided to fix the GDP (gross domestic product) growth target of six percent for the next financial year as compared to 5.7 percent for the current financial year. The agriculture growth target for next fiscal was set at same level of current year at 3.5 percent, the target for manufacturing sector was set at 6.4 percent and for services sector at 6.4 percent as compared to 5.7 percent of the current fiscal year.

The final approval of the development budget outlay will be given by the National Economic Council meeting that will be held in the next few days. The Planning Division will be submitting final recommendations in consultation with the provinces to the council. Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal told reporters after the meeting that the development budget for the next financial year would remained focused on improving infrastructure and connectivity.

“We have allocated Rs 325 billion for infrastructure sector as compared to Rs 188 billion last year to expedite completion of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects, as well as the Western route to Gwadar,” he said, adding that the improvement in connectivity leads to economic wellbeing. When asked whether the provincial governments were on board with the federal government development priorities for the next financial year, he said that the provincial governments appreciated the economic stabilisation and supported the development priorities.

“Everyone realises now that expressways bring prosperity,” he said. However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Muzzaffar Said contested the statement of the planning minister and claimed that the priority was only given to the development projects of Punjab. “We present 12 development projects and all were rejected. They did the same thing last year where we presented 42 projects and they approved only two.”

About concerns of other provinces, he said that he could not reply on their behalf but they were not happy. “They treated us in a ‘step motherly’ way. If they don’t address our concerns I will reveal facts in next few days,” he added. The planning minister pointed out that the decline in exports was a big worry for the government.

He said that three special studies would be conducted for revamping agriculture, industrial and mining sectors and to provide cluster-based approach and value chain for high value added products. “The exports of primary commodities have decline but the value added products have retained their steam,” he said.

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