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June 15, 2021

CM promises highest budget in KP history 

 PESHAWAR: Besides the completion of the two long-delayed projects including Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Phase-1 of the Swat Motorway and inauguration of Rashkai Special Economic Zone, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Monday termed the smooth merger of ex-Fata with the province in a short period of two years as a huge achievement of his government.

He was briefing journalists about development projects that his government had either completed or initiated in the past two years.

“My time and energy were taken by the two megaprojects, which the previous government had announced but could not complete. People and particularly the media used to criticise me and my government for not completing the BRT and Phase-1 of the Swat Motorway and I had to work hard by arranging funds for the two long-awaited projects,” the chief minister explained in response to a question about the mega projects of his government.

The then chief minister Pervez Khattak had launched the two mega projects and claimed he would complete both of them in a short period of six months. He, however, could not complete them in more than a year and caused a huge embarrassment to the next Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, headed by Mahmood Khan.

The chief minister said that besides the peaceful merger of ex-Fata into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, his aim was reaching out to the entire population of the province to provide them free healthcare services.

“The Fata merger was a big milestone and I claim it the biggest success of our government by overcoming this huge challenge in a short period of time. Second, we successfully reached the entire KP population in the shape of Sehat Card Plus scheme,” he explained.

Under the universal healthcare services, the KP government has brought 7.02 million people of 28 districts under the Sehat Card Plus scheme.

 Similarly, the chief minister said the government had spent Rs16 billion on building new hospitals and blocks in certain hospitals to upgrade healthcare services in the province.

He said that the previous year (2020) was tough due to the corona pandemic that badly affected the economy but despite these challenges,  the government would achieve their target of Rs50 billion in revenues.

He said the KP government had increased its revenues by 60 percent, saying that for the first time in the history of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they would present a budget of three trillion rupees.

The chief minister said that the federal government had agreed to provide KP with its share of net hydel profit.

He said they would allocate Rs200 billion for the development sector in the 2021-22 budget.

Keeping in view the difficult financial position of the people, the chief minister said they decided not to levy any new tax in the forthcoming budget.

Mahmood Khan said he would honour the commitment he had made with government employees with regard to a raise in salaries.

Besides senior government officials including additional chief secretary Shahab Ali Shah and secretary finance Atif Rahman, cabinet members Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Akbar Ayub, and chief minister’s Special Assistant Karman Bangash also attended the press briefing.

Mahmood Khan said that besides accomplishing some of the mega projects, he had launched a number of more developmental projects, in which some had already been matured while work on other schemes would be initiated soon.

“We are going to start work on the Dera Ismail Khan Motorway, Phase-II of Swat Motorway, Dir Expressway, Chashma Right Bank Canal and Daraban Economic Zone projects,” he said.

Also, the chief minister said that they were ready to launch KP’s largest 300 megawatts Balakat Hydropower Project and soon Prime Minister Imran Khan would perform ground-breaking of the project.

About the slow pace of work on development projects in the ex-Fata, Mahmood Khan said that the development budget of the merged districts had increased from Rs24 billion per annum to Rs60 billion per annum and added that the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments, as per their commitment, were giving 3 percent of their NFC shares for the development of the tribal districts.

However, the chief minister complained that despite their pledges, the three other provinces could not fulfil their commitment of giving 3 percent of their NFC to the development of tribal districts. He said he would soon raise this issue with the prime minister.