No gimmick in budget making: minister

August 31,2018

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LAHORE: Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said the resource mobilisation committee would be called in the next week while no gimmick would apply to budget making.

He confirmed that the meeting was held on budget preparation and he had asked the department to prepare the Punjab budget according to the factual position.

Besides, it briefed the finance minister on the maiden meeting held a day before on the budget and financial position of the province in order to chalk out the ongoing financial year budget to allocate hefty allocations on the annual development plan (ADP) while most budget will lapse due to delay in approval as one quarter of the fiscal year will already expire until the budget would be tabled in the provincial assembly.

An official who attended the meeting disclosed that Special Secretary for Finance Saifullah Dogar briefed the minister while Finance Secretary Hamid Yaqoob remained silent.

Further, the minister got annoyed with Finance Secretary Hamid Yaqoob's proposal to alter the already prepared budget by the outgoing PML-N government with required changes and PTI policy guidelines.

The minister categorically asked the department to prepare a new budget and curtail the number of schemes of different sectors and focus on civic services such as health, education, water and sanitation and others.

The meeting also discussed the future of different public sector companies in Punjab, such as Saaf Pani Company and others.

The finance minister who previously headed the technical committee of Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) and is well aware of the working of the finance department asked the department to prepare the budget again.

He also asked Dr Ali Cheema, an economist who teaches in LUMS, who also advised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government on economic and governance issue, about his input on water sector development projects.

Dr Ali Cheema said that it should be decided that whether the PTI-led government would move with public sector companies model or wanted to strengthen departments. Thus, accordingly future plans could be discussed and advised, he added.

Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht talking to The News said that the resource mobilisation committee would be called in the next week while no gimmick would apply to budget making.

"The financial position of the Punjab province is known to everyone, so the focus would be on revenue generation for which a meeting with Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) was also held on Thursday," he added.

He confirmed that the meeting was held on budget preparation and he had asked the department to make the budget according to the factual position.

To a question about a briefing on the financial position to Prime Minister Imran Khan during his maiden official visit being prime minister to Lahore on Friday (today), Hashim Jawan said that the PM would be briefed about factual financial situation of the province. Later, it will also be made public, he added.

About future plans, the finance minister said the PTI wanted to improve the financial position of the province, besides empowering local governments by giving them financial independence.

Hashim Jawan, who previously headed the Provincial Finance Commission technical committee and provided recommendations to the PML-N government in formation of the PFC Award, said the party guidelines would be included in awarding the PFC Award which was deferred by the government earlier.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had prepared the PFC Award after long consultations with all stakeholders and planned to table in the Punjab Assembly. However, it failed to table it as the budget was tabled too after a difficult political situation started for it.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi wanted to see Sardar Hasnain Bahadar Dreshak as Punjab finance minister, who had served in the same office during his tenure as chief minister.

However, Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, who also sought some adviser or parliamentary secretary for finance in the Pakistan Muslim League-N government but was not entertained. But, this time he managed to grab the important position of finance minister in Punjab.

It is anticipated that his role would be vital in calling the shots in future in the presence of a chief minister from Southern Punjab.


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