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Rs1.5b earmarked for South Punjab Secretariat

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July 1, 2020

LAHORE: Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has said the government has fulfilled the promise of the Southern Punjab Secretariat made with the people of southern Punjab.

Additional Chief Secretary (South) and Additional IG (South) have been posted and both will assume their duties from 1st July (today).

Meanwhile, non-transferable funds have been allocated for the backward districts; 33 percent funds have been reserved for southern Punjab and Rs1.5 billion were earmarked for southern Punjab Secretariat, he added.

Addressing the Punjab Assembly session after the approval of provincial budget 2020-21, the chief minister paid tributes to Punjab Assembly Speaker, Deputy Speaker and others who took an active part in the budget session. Besides the onslaught of coronavirus, the chief minister said the possibility of floods and another locusts attack were also anticipated. At the outset of the coronavirus, the Punjab government constituted a cabinet committee on corona control and imposed a corona emergency. Then, the testing capacity was 100 only but today, this capacity has reached 12,000 daily with the number of government testing labs reaching to 17. More than 5 lakh are tested in Punjab and there is no shortage of medicines for coronavirus, he added. Along with it, there are 9,276 oxygen beds, 2,600 high dependency units and 2,302 ventilators. The government announced additional pay for doctors, health professionals, rescue staff and frontline staff engaged in the treatment of corona patients. The Shuhada Package was also announced for those laying their lives during corona duties, he said.

The CM said that 24 districts had been affected by locust attack but the damages were controlled to a large extent due to the timely steps. He said that Rs1 billion were issued to PDMA and pesticides were sprayed at eight lakh acres to destroy locust swarms. He said that corona related App, information system and locusts surveillance-board had been launched by the government. “I have also visited more than 25 districts to take stock of the field situation,” he added. Punjab has also distributed Rs165 billion among the needy under Ehsaas Programme. The corona has emerged as a big trial and Punjab got Rs635 billion less revenue but I directed the finance team to present real figures instead of playing with the jugglery of the words. This budget is based on genuine data and figures, he asserted. Punjab needs Rs1.300 trillion to complete ongoing development projects and it is difficult to arrange such a large amount in the prevailing circumstance, he maintained and assured that despite the difficult situation, the government would complete these development projects.

He said that Rs106 billion had been earmarked for safety from the corona. This includes tax relief worth Rs56 billion and direct expenditures to the tune of Rs50 billion. An incentive package has also been introduced for the construction industry to arrange employment opportunities for the labourers, he said.

Meanwhile, small taxes worth Rs600 million had been abolished to create ease in businesses. Similarly, a public-private partnership authority has been set up to complete 13 big roads construction projects with an amount of Rs140 billion, including Lahore Ring Road Southern Loop-III project which will be completed with the cost of Rs11 billion, he added. He said that Rs23 billion would be spent on Punjab Cities Programme and another Rs20 billion will be spent on 12 development projects to provide basic facilities in 16 small and medium cities of the province.

The CM maintained that Rs5 billion increase had been made in the development budget despite a difficult situation and 10 per cent increase had also been made in the local government budget. Jalalpur Canal Project has been started with an amount of Rs32.700 billion and another amount of Rs31.730 billion had been allocated for the promotion of the agriculture sector.

The government has allocated Rs1.5 billion for women empowerment and 6 percent increase has been made in the minorities budge, he stated. Similarly, the CM said that health and education budgets are increased by 38 percent and 18 percent respectively. The government has retrieved state lands worth Rs135 billion in a province-wide operation against encroachments, he said. He said that the Punjab government would establish a technical college in Kharan, a community centre in Tuftaan and a 100-bed hospital in Turbat, Balochistan for which Rs1.25 billion have been allocated. He stated that Rs1.5 billion were being given in the head of utility bills in court grant and approval for 10,000 recruitments has been done.