PESHAWAR - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra on Wednesday said that the provincial government despite difficult circumstances caused by Coronavirus pandemic gave a balanced budget and KP has earmarked more funds for development than Sindh and Punjab.

Responding to questions from members of opposition parties in the provincial assembly, Taimur Jhagra said the Corona pandemic had caused economic crisis around the world. It was challenging to keep development budget for the year 2020-21 same as the previous year’s budget, but we did it. He termed the KP budget better in all aspects and it was being praised by all.

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget has been on top as compare to other provinces in terms of development budget, per capita development spending, increase in health budget, per capita health spending and reform agenda. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the health budget has been increased by 43% on annual basis, which is unprec­edented.

“We have not compromised on our development budget. We have built 15 new hospitals in last 5 years. A total of 3500 beds have been added to the existing setups, while the health sector has taken on a new dimension/direc­tion under the MTI Act.” He said. The minister said, “2,000 health professionals have been recruited to fight the Coro­na epidemic, while 18,000 health professionals have been registered under the locum scheme.

Referring to Net Hydel Profit (NHP), he said that the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was actively in­volved in the matter and remained constantly in touch with the federal government. Prior to Corona epidem­ic, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa used to receive Rs. 3 billion a month from the center in this regard, he hoped that the is­sue would be resolved very soon.

Taimur Jhagra said that ban on the supply of wheat and flour to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Punjab has been lifted and all check posts set up for the purpose have also been removed.

Responding to a question, he said that more should be spent in education sector on the management and teach­ing staff, as they were directly related to service deliv­ery and promotion of education. Recruitment was being made on merit through NTS, and there had been no politi­cal influence. “In addition to setting up of 500 community schools in the province, we are working with the private sector for improving and strengthening the schools show­ing poor performance and launching second shift in better performance schools,” he said.

Taimur Jhagra said that Karak and Kohat are getting gas royalty, and other districts are also being provided full portions of their Annual Development programme.

The Finance Minister told the House that the provincial government was paying equal attention to the constituen­cies of the opposition members and every district is get­ting its share in the ADP.

He said that more development budget had been spent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year as compared to Sindh and Punjab and the funds received from the Federal and the revenue generated by the province had been complete­ly spent. He denied that the development budget in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been lapsed and not spent. In response to a question, he said that to treat Corona patients Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hospitals were performing better than the government hospitals of any other province.

He said several social welfare and women empower­ment projects had also been included in budget. He also clarified that no female member of the provincial assem­bly had approached him regarding any plan or suggestion related to the welfare of women.

Taimur Jhagra said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa govern­ment was the only government that had spent the most on its people. The per capita development expenditure of the province is Rs 8957 which was the highest in the whole country. Next in line is Sindh province which is spending Rs 4867 per capita.