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Substantial funds allocated for uplift of different sectors, says Dr Ayesha


LAHORE, JUN 04 (DNA) – Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha on Saturday said the provincial government had presented a record welfare and development budget for the financial year 2017-18.

Addressing a post budget press conference here, she said it was the largest budget in the history of the province, in which handsome alloctions had been made for the uplift of different sectors.

The finance minister said the Punjab government had been moving forward with a comprehensive economic growth strategy and fruits of which were being reaped by the people in the form of economic development, provision of basic health and education facilities, overcoming energy crisis and eradication of terrorism.

Dr Ayesha said Rs 1,017 billion had been earmarked for the public health, education, agriculture, law and order and local governments sectors, which made up 59 per cent of the total budget.

She said the government’s preferences in the budget 2017-18 were aimed at making the people of Punjab part of sustainable development process, whose benefits would be reaped by the future generations and the nation would be able to attain its rightful status among the developed nations.

The minister said infrastructure, good-governance, transparency, merit and supremacy of law were the pre-requisites of investement and Punjab had fulfilled all the conditions. Today Chinese investors were engaged in the industry, energy and infrastructure sectors in Punjab while investors from Turkey and other countries were also showing keen interest to invest in the province.

Dr Ayesha said social sector was the top-most priority of the government. Rs 201.63 billion had been allocated for the sector, including education, health, water-supply and sanitation, women development amd social welfare in the development budget for the fiscal year 2017-18, which was 32 percent of the development budget for the next fiscal year.

She said total Rs 345 billion was proposed to be spent on education in the next fiscal budget, which 33 percent more than the funds allocated for the same purpose in the current budget. Rs 53.36 had been earmarked for school education, she added.

She said Rs 230 billion were set aside for District Education Authorities (DEAs), which had been set up across the province since January 2017 under the new system of the local governments. The government would spend 36.6 percent more on DEAs as only RS 169 billion were to be spent under the old system.

Dr Ayesha Ghous said the Chief Minister’s revolutionary initiative ‘Parho Punjab Barho Punjab’ would continue during the next fiscal year.

She said students drop-out rate at schools had decreased by four percent during the current fiscal year. She expressed the hope that the government would soon achieve the target of 100 percent enrolment.

Giving out the Punjab government’s preference for the agriculture sector, the minister said Rs 140.50 billion had been allocated for the agriculture and allied departments including irrigation, livestock, forestry and fishing and food.

She said Rs 15 billion had been allocated for the Kissan Package under which various projects would be started, besides subsidized fertilisers to the farmers and relief of Rs 6 billion sales tax on agricultural tubewells to the farmers.

She said Rs 41 billion had been allocated for the irrigation department. Under various development programmes of the irrigation department, many projects would be completed, including Jalapur Irrigation Project, Greater Thal Canal Project Phase II and others.

The minister said Rs 17 billion were set aside for the “Khadim-i-Punjab Rural Roads Programme” which would help in the construction and extension of 1400 kilometers long roads in the province.

Referring to the revolutionary initiatives of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to achieve balance in the energy demand and supply, Dr Ayesha Ghaus said the Sahiwal Coal Power Project had been completed speedily, which was the first project under the CPEC built in the shortest span of time.

The minister said the Rs 180 billion power project would produce 1320 megawatts and start power generation in next few days.

She further said LNG-fuelled Bhikki Power Plant with a total power generation capacity of 1180-MW would also add power to the national grid in a few days. Many power projects including solar, hydro, Balloki, Haveli Bahadur Shah would be completed shortly and start power generation, she added.

Ayesha Ghaus said the government with the Chinese investment had established 300 megawatt Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, which would pave way for revolution in solar energy sector.

She said the government had devised a Comprehensive Industrial Policy to attract foreign and local investment.

The finance minister said Rs 2 billion had been allocated for the Chief Minister Self- Employment Scheme due to its efficacy for the year 2017-18. More than 670,000 women had benefitted from the scheme launched through the Punjab Small Industries Corporation.

She said the government planned to issue investment bonds worth Rs 25 billion from the next fiscal year. The people and organisations could invest in the bonds, besides their purchase and sale.

The move would promote savings culture in the province, besides spurring investment, she added.

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