LAHORE : Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht Monday promised improvement in the Human Development Indicators in Southern Punjab besides pledging regional equalisation in the distribution of resources in the province.
“We don’t believe in discriminatory treatment, every citizen of Punjab is equally important for us” said the minister in his winding up speech on Punjab Assembly floor in the ongoing budget session.
“The present government isn’t only increasing the budget for South Punjab but also making effective planning under which basic facilities along with economic activities could be ensured” said the minister.
He went on to say that in order to convert social and economical decline into prosperity, the development paradigm was being shifted. Promising ‘regional equalisation’ he said the 35 percent budget for Southern Punjab would be spent on the improvement of health, education, water situation and stated that it would be the first step towards the improvement of ‘Human Development Indicators.’ He said for the first time, an amount of Rs3 billion had been allocated for South Punjab Secretariat while keeping in view the goal of its administrative strengthening and reiterated the commitment to continue working on the legislation required for making it a province. “The greatest problem of Punjab was setting up the priorities what we have done now, now it is the time to act for which unity in our ranks will be a positive sign” he said.
Taking the House into confidence over the government’s plan to strengthen industrial sector, he said that unfortunately, this side suffered a lot due to the wrong decisions of the previous government.
Now, he said, the present government had come up with industrial policy in which special attention was being paid towards export. He told PA that the Punjab government had planned to establish Industrial Estates in all the 36 districts of the province.
The finance minister while responding to the criticism of the Opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz in his post-budget speech posed the question to the Opposition leader to tell what his party had done to handle the inflating value of the US dollar against Pakistani rupee.
Hashim Jawan told Punjab Assembly that when the PTI government came to power, the trade deficit was around 36.5b dollars. The minister claimed that the government had stuck to its commitment of austerity and chief minister’s entertainment and security expenditures had reduced. He stated that unlike past, the present government didn’t believe in having multiple camp offices of CM.
Besides, he stated that social uplift of people was the government’s priority and said it had allocated 33% more amount for health as compared to the previous years. He also said that efforts were underway to address the issue of “Foot and Mouth” disease confronted by the livestock in Bahawalpur region.
For agricultural sector, he said attention was being paid to increase crops production that could eventually bring economic boost whereas subsidy was being provided to the growers.
He said immediately after coming to power, the government introduced ‘Prime Minister’s National Agricultural Emergency Programme’ under which Livestock and Fisheries sectors were also being strengthened to ensure increase in country’s export.