LAHORE   -  Terming surplus budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 a step towards economic progress, Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said that uniform distribution of resources, social protection and human resource development were focussed.

Addressing a post-budget press conference at CM Secretariat on Saturday, he admitted increase in inflation rate, saying the government was facing tough situation. Secretary Finance Abdullah Sumbal, Chairman Punjab Revenue Authority Javed Ahmed and other relevant officers were also present.

Hashim Jawan Bakhat said that the country was coming out of economic crises due to positive decisions of government. He said that was based on Punjab Growth Strategy 2018-23 providing leading principles to the government for next five year. He said that the government was extending safe city project to Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala and DG Khan. He said that Rs8.9 billion has been allocated for Orange Line Metro Train Project. He said that the every possible measure has been taken to put minimum burden on the common man. He said that south Punjab comprising 32 per cent of the province’s population had for the last seven years been receiving an average 17 per cent of developmental funds. He said the present government allocated 35 per cent of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for southern Punjab. He said that this amount would be utilized only on projects in south Punjab. He said southern districts had also been given more share in sector-wise allocations ie school education 53 per cent, sports 40 per cent, health 39 per cent, roads infrastructures 41 per cent, agriculture 48 per cent, livestock 76 per cent and resource development 60 per cent. He said that nine new hospitals would be set up in Layyah, Mianwali, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Multan and Rajanpur. He said the present government adopted the strategy that would end the problem of price-hike and dearness. Instead of looking for the results of next elections, he said, the government has chosen the difficult path of taking long term stets for putting the economy on right track.

“We had two options. Just concentrate on short term measures for winning next elections as had been done in the past. Or opt the difficult task of taking measures for putting the economy on the right track. We have chosen the difficult task,” he said.

He said that Rs39.3 billion have been allocated for education. He said that innovative measures like evening shift in educational institutions have been taken under Insaf School Program that would help increase literacy rate.

To a question about increase in Chief Minister Office’s expenditures in contradiction to austerity claims, he said CM Office’s budget consisted of various components. He said that allowances had been reduced substantially.

Giving details, he said, entertainment allowance had been cut from Rs110 million to Rs30 million. He said the CM has made massive cut in his discretionary allowances/funds.