LAHORE  -  Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Javan Bakht said Sunday that resources will be distributed to district governments under a regular formula under the next Provincial Finance Commission (PFC). 

The local government funds will be increased and the scope of powers will be expanded in order to improve delivery of services at the local level. Additionally, the areas with natural resources will be given a share in royalties and profits. Similarly, recommendations from local governments will be given priority for development work under district-level projects in the districts.

The minister expressed these views during a briefing on the Provincial Financial Awards in a meeting with Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan at the Finance Department. He was accompanied by Finance Secretary Abdullah Sumbal, Secretary Planning and Development Imran Sikandar and concerned officers of the Finance Department. The minister instructed that alternative sources of investment will be introduced for the provision of civic amenities in backward areas. Accountability will also be ensured along with technical assistance to local agencies for the proper use of resources. The Provincial Finance Commission will set out procedures in accordance with the law to audit expenditure at the local level, he added. 

The Provincial Minister informed the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission that a 17-member Local Government Finance Commission notification was issued. The government officials, opposition, local representatives and four technical members were included in it. Further, there were also plans to set up a specialized secretariat for the Finance Commission. 

The Punjab government was introducing plans for poverty alleviation and provision of basic amenities for equitable development in the province along with enhancing the capacity of local governments. In this regard, the Human Capital Development Project was noteworthy. Hospitals and healthcare centres were being set up at district and tehsil level to reduce the mortality rate of pregnant women and newborns, he added. 

He said the local projects were undertaken at the district level to improve service delivery and administration. Further, the suggestions for the transfer of governments and the integration of local tax collectors into local governments were also being considered. To improve the socio-economic indicators in the province, data was being collected from the tehsil level for which various departments had been mobilized.

Expressing satisfaction over the steps taken to provide resources to the district governments in Punjab, the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission said that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted the provision of services at the public level and positive response from the administration. 

To this end, the efficiency of the district governments was being improved. 

The Provincial Minister directed the Secretary Planning & Development Board to make the Punjab Statistics Agency more functional and instruct it to provide the relevant statistics to all the departments.