PESHAWAR          -        The provincial cabinet Friday formally ap­proved the budget proposals for the finan­cial year 2020-21.

The special meeting, held with Chief Min­ister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan in the chair, was attended besides all cabi­net members, by Chief Secretary, Addition­al Chief Secretary and Administrative Sec­retaries of the provincial government. The cabinet also approved proposed austerity measures to overcome the issue of financial constraints being faced by the government due to the prevailing corona situation.

The austerity measures will expected­ly make a saving of Rs. 5 Billion to 10 Bil­lion to the provincial exchequers during the next financial year. These austerity meas­ures include ban on the purchase of new ve­hicles of 1600 CC and above for the govern­ment functionaries, foreign training, tours and medical treatment of government offi­cials on public expenses, holding of official workshops and seminars in five star hotels, launching projects involving purchase of new vehicles and creation of new vacancies without prior approval of the Finance De­partment, expenditure against the expect­ed supplementary grants, cuts on non-sal­ary components of the current budget and ban on new hiring without obtaining NOC from surplus pool.

However, ban on new hiring will not ap­ply to recruitments against the newly creat­ed positions for newly merged districts. All the autonomous and semi-autonomous bod­ies will also be bound to adopt these austeri­ty measures. The cabinet was given a detailed briefing on various aspects of the budget in­cluding the annual development programme, budget estimates, revenue targets, finance bill and supplementary budget etc. The cabi­net was informed that the total volume of the new budget was to the tune of Rs.923 Billion whereas revenue target for the next financial year was set at Rs. 49 Billion.

Expressing his views on the occasion, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan termed the budget as a balanced and best one in the prevailing scenario and said that neither any new tax had been levied nor the rates of the existing taxes have been increased in the budget. He said that major chunk of the up­coming Annual Developmental Programme had been allocated for the completion of on­going schemes. He said that more than 600 ongoing developmental schemes will be completed during the next financial year.

Mahmood Khan directed the provincial ministers and administrative secretaries of all the departments for result-oriented steps to ensure completion of all the due for completion schemes of their respective de­partments within next financial year and to show physical progress in this regard as per the given timelines.

The Chief Minister said that Key Perfor­mance Indicators (KPIs) had been devel­oped to evaluate the performance of all the departments on quantitative basis, and soon after the budget session he would hold regular meetings to review the per­formance of all departments on the basis of KPIs adding that red letters would be issued to the low performing departments.

He said timely completion of the ongo­ing developmental schemes of merged dis­tricts was the top priority of his government and expressed his satisfaction on more than 80% funds utilization against releases for the developmental schemes of these are­as during the current financial year. He di­rected all the departments to take necessary steps from the beginning of the next finan­cial year to ensure 100% utilization of funds.