LAHORE - Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat has said that the provincial government has given the best budget in the current scenario by focusing on the areas hit by the coronavirus while protecting the economy and vulnerable groups.

While addressing post budget press conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat on Tuesday, he said the Punjab government has not compromised the development portfolio despite witnessing reduction in the revenue while Public Private Partnership Authority was established for implementation of the PPP projects.Flanked by Chairman Planning and Development Hamid Yaqoob Sheih, and Secretary Finance Abdullah Sumbal, the minister said the southern loop of the Lahore Ring Road will be completed under PPP project with Rs 10 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21 while the PPP projects were given a five year tax holidays as well. He said the government has given Rs 56 billion tax relief package in the budget, besides giving priority to construction sector to boost 16 attached industries.The minister announced that a new project was introduced in the budget with the name Grow Punjab and a Rs 106 billion package has been allocated to cope with COVID-19 under this head.

The government will review the expenditure on monthly basis due to COVID-19 pandemic while all the recommendations would be considered. He said the government has not announced new projects for the sake of making the budget speech sound attractive instead to focus on completing the announced 6 universities and 9 hospitals announced last year. Hashim Jawan said that the government also introduced small projects for the community development including the tree plantation, roads and canals linings and others in order to create employment opportunities for lower segment of the society.He said the Punjab government like the federal government also lowered the revenue generation targets while the scope of the foreign funded and assisted projects was increased to meet the gap.Further, expanding the taxpayer base was a focus in the budget.To a question, the minister said the government allocated Rs 9 billion for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project, out of which Rs 4 billion allocated for subsidy and 4.5 billion for the payment of mark-up of the project loan.