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June 16, 2019

41pc allocations in budget are for social sector: minister


June 16, 2019

LAHORE : Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said that 41 per cent allocations in 2019-20 budget are for the social sector as provincial government aims to remove inequality and upgrade the quality of life of the poor.

Addressing the post-budget press conference, he said the thrust of Punjab government was on agriculture and small and medium enterprises in the industrial sector. He said for this purpose Ehsaas-Punjab projects would play a pivotal role. He said the programme would be spearheaded by the Punjab Social Protection Authority (PSPA). It will include current PSPA’s programmes as well as new programmes worth over Rs15 billion aimed at filling many coverage gaps in social protection.

PSPA Vice-Chairman Ali Asjad Malhi said the disbursements under the PSPA programmes were not doled out like zakat but were meant to bring ignored segments of the population to the mainstream. For instance, he added, under the Ba-himmat Buzurg Programme around 15,0000 men, women and transgender people over the age of 65 years would be provided with Rs2,000 monthly under a transparent criteria based on level of poverty.

He said in return the government expected them to become social mobilisers in society they lived in. They would persuade the youngsters to shun terrorism and live in harmony without sectarian bias.

He said another programme named Hum Qadam aimed to facilitate the special persons to play their part in economic mainstream.

He said from the allocation of Rs2 billion in this budget those who were almost crippled and could work would be given stipend of Rs2,000 per month while those who had the ability to work would be provided with interest-free loans of up to Rs50,000 to run their own business. Again the selection would be purely on merit based on the level of poverty on a scale of 0-30.

Malhi said the Masawat programme would be initiated with an outlay of Rs200 million for transgender people. The initiative would have conditional cash transfers for skill building, unconditional cash transfers for elderly transgender persons and micro-credit for promoting entrepreneurship among transgender persons. He said PEMRA had been requested to ban airing of programmes that make fun of transgender people. He said transgender people would be protected from the “guru culture.”

He said Kundan programme was being launched for acid victims. With allocation of Rs 100 million, the victims of the heinous crime of acid throwing would be financially assisted and fully rehabilitated at the government’s expense, including the skin grafting treatment, followed by skill-building and interest-free loans for livelihood support.

He pointed out the Punjab chief minister had instructed the PSPA to assist all the female acid burn victims living anywhere in Pakistan in their treatment and rehabilitation. He said Punjab government would provide them with travel, boarding and lodging fund to come and live in the province during the course of their treatment.

The PSPA vice-chairman said Sarparast Programme for Poor Widows and Orphans had been allocated Rs2 billion for financial year 2019-20 because assisting the poor widows and orphans would be a key feature of Punjab’s Ehsas programme. The poor widows who have not remarried and who meet poverty score-based eligibility criteria will be assisted through the program with a monthly stipend of Rs2000 with top-up programmes of easy credit and asset transfer. He said those already availing Zakat facility would not be eligible for this assistance.

He revealed that World Bank’s IDA had provided a soft loan of $300 million at 1 per cent interest and payable in 40 years to assist poor pregnant women in quality food intake and better pre-birth care. He said poor pregnant women would be provided with Rs1,000 on every visit to the government clinics. They would be provided with nutritious food as well. He said they would be given Rs3,000 at the birth of the child while complete vaccination of the child would be the responsibility of the government.

He said DIFID had granted £36 million for the asset transfer programme of Punjab government meant only for women. He said major chunk of the programme would be used to provide milking cattle to the asset-less women.

Makhdom Hashim concluded by stating that the 35 per cent allocation of development budget was for South Punjab and it would be fully utilised in that region. He said in order to close the human development gap of the South Punjab with other parts of the province the allocation was much higher than its population in health, education, livestock and agriculture.

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