peshawar          -     Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Saturday said that despite the existing difficult economic situation in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the provincial government has presented a balanced and tax-free budget for the financial year 2020-21.

Addressing a post-budget press conference along with Advisor to KP Chief Minister on Information, Ajmal Wazir, here the Finance  Minister said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not received amount from center in head of net hydel profit (NHP) from February 2020 till date, because of which the province was facing serious economic constraints.

In the wake of shortcomings in tax collections by the federal government, he said that an amount of Rs. 150 billion in National Finance Commission (NFC) award had been deducted for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the previous financial year 2019-20. He said that a shortfall of Rs. 160 billion in provincial revenue receipt is being faced owing to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

Taimur Saleem Jhagra said that a record allocation of Rs. 148 billion had been made for the health sector, whereas a huge chunk of Rs. 207 billion also allocated for education sector aimed at improving literacy ratio and the socio-economic conditions of masses.

Despite depressing economic conditions, he added, a sum of Rs. 317.8 billion was allocated for development portfolio which was more than the Sindh province. He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget was focused on reviving the economy crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and protecting investment in service deliveries, particularly the health sector.

The Minister further said that a hefty amount of Rs. 24 billion had been allocated for the establishment of an Anti-Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund, meant to protect people from the viral infection. He claimed that in the budget the tax rate had not been revised, and expressed the hope that tax collection target of Rs. 49 billion would be achieved in the fiscal year 2020-21.

Taimur Jhagra said that the provincial government stand on net hydel profit issue was very clear, as many countries were giving share in the revenue obtained from such resources to that particular province. He said the provincial government has prioritized uplift of merged tribal districts with a special focus on education, health and infrastructure development projects to bring them at par with the developed areas of the country.

On the occasion, Advisor to CM on Information Ajmal Wazir said that Bacha Khan International Airport has been opened for international flights as per the decision of the federal government where all necessary arrangements were made including deployment of doctors, paramedics besides installation of scanners to facilitate passengers in wake of coronavirus pandemic. He said coronavirus cases have been increased and urged upon the people to follow the SOPs which are imperative to contain the viral infection.