LAHORE - Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat said on Monday that a total of Rs 337 billion would be spent on developmental schemes/projects of various sectors during the next financial year (2020-2021).

Last year’s budgetary allocation for annual development programme was Rs350 billion which reduced by 3.7 percent for financial year 2020-21.

During his budget speech in the assembly session here, the finance minister said that despite huge economic challenges and dearth of resources, the government did not comprise on development programme and earmarked Rs 337 billion as development expenditure. He mentioned that the on-going developmental projects would be completed on priority basis.

The minister said that out of the total Rs 337 billion development budget, Rs 97.66 billion would be spent on social sector, Rs77.86 billion on infrastructure development, Rs 17.35 billion on production sector, Rs 45.38 billion on services sector, Rs 51.24 billion on miscellaneous sectors, Rs 47.5 billion on special programme and Rs 25 billion on the Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Keeping in view the meagre resources in the presence of coronavirus challenges, the government has decided to involve private sector through Innovative Financing to fulfil development needs.

For this purpose, Punjab Public-Private Partnership Authority and 165 mega projects have been identified for next financial year, which included Lahore Ring Road (SL-4), dualisation of Multan-Vehari Road, Nulla Lie (Rawalpindi) Expressway, provision of water meters and Rawalpindi Ring Road etc.

He mentioned that projects under the PPP would be exempted from Sale Tax on Services for five years. The minister told the house that Rs 15 billion were being allocated for Community Development Programme (CDP) to start labour intensive programmes, while a hefty amount was also being earmarked for on-going projects under Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme (SAP).

Since Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have key role in economic development of Punjab, he said, an allocation of Rs 8 billion had been made for MSMEs. Besides tax exemptions, Rural Enterprises as well as reforms would also be introduced in this sector, he said and added that with this government’s intervention, an accumulative four to five times capital injection in the market was expected.

The minister said that Rs 6.87 billion would be given to TEVTA (Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority) enabling youths active participation in technical training and economic activities. Out this budget, he said, Rs 1.5 billion would be spent on Hunnarmand Nojawan Programme, while Rs 4.9 billion for Skill Development Programme. TEVTA courses would be revised to bring these at par with international standard, he said.

Improving the living standard of poor segments of society had always been top priority of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Punjab Chief Minister, he said and mentioned that Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA) budget for FY 2020-21 would be around Rs4 billion under which Punjab Ehsas Programme (PEP) would be implemented. He said that Panah gah (Shelter Houses) were being constructed at every divisional headquarters for social welfare, while two new centres were being established at Lahore and Rawalpindi to curb violence against women.

Hashim Jawan said that poverty reduction and employment projects worth more than Rs 2 billion would be completed under South Punjab Poverty Alleviation Programme (PPPAP) in 10 Punjab districts ie Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, D.G.Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Layyah, Bhakkar, Khushab and Mianwali. Similarly, Rs 1.15 billion would be spent on Women Income Generation and Self Reliance (WINGS) Project in districts of Vehari, Chiniot, Sargodha, Pakpattan, Khanewal, Okara, Multan, Sheikhupura and Rawalpindi, he said

The minister said that an amount of Rs 5.36 billion had been set aside for Human Capital Investment Project to jack up the people living below poverty line.

He said that in an effort to make access of South Punjab’s people to government departments, establishment of South Punjab Secretariat consisting of 16 departments had been approved and Rs 50 billion had been earmarked in this regard. He maintained that posts of Additional Chief Secretary and Additional IG Police Punjab had been created and both the officers would assume their respective offices from July 01, 2020.

Last year, the Punjab government presented Rs350 billion Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the financial year 2019-20 as a key policy instrument to execute the development vision, meet policy objectives and achieve development targets set by the government. Out of Rs350 billion development outlay, the Punjab government had allocated Rs125 billion for social sector, Rs88 billion for infrastructure development sector, Rs34 billion for production sector, Rs21 billion for services sector, Rs17 billion for other sectors, Rs23 billion for special programmes, and Rs42 billion for public private partnership programmes.

Even in the last year’s annual development programme the government had outlined the development priorities of the Punjab government which were shifted from hard infrastructure to progression of social sectors and human capital development in the province. The government had highlighted sustainable development in different sectors including education, healthcare and clean drinking water as important priorities and had claimed that the government had come up with a realistic ADP.

To support and effectively manage the development portfolio of the province, last year the government of the Punjab had formulated Punjab Growth Strategy 2023 that had served as a guide post not only for formulating Annual Development Programme of the province but also for the implementation. However, that growth strategy had no mention in the recently announced budgetary allocation for ADP.