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Thursday December 02, 2021

Punjab budget focuses on inclusive growth: minister

June 18, 2021

LAHORE: Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said the government prepared provincial budget with a different philosophy for inclusive growth unlike the past governments which had established infrastructure without considering judicious use of it.

In the budget, the government has allocated Rs86 billion for civil works in 16 most backward tehsils of the province. These funds will solve the problems of clean drinking water supply, sanitation and construction and repair of link roads which would reduce the backwardness at the regional level. The District Development Programme has been selected keeping in view the labour consumption. The main purpose of establishing River Ravi Development Authority is to improve groundwater level and install water treatment plants to provide clean water with additional economic benefits of the project, said the minister during panel discussion on development, poverty rate and food security organised by Government College University Lahore on Thursday.

The event was moderated by GCU Vice-Chancellor Asghar Ali Zaidi. The minister said that progressive approach was being promoted to enhance agricultural productivity which was viral for food security in the country. Use of modern technology and improvement in extension services will ensure increase in farmers’ revenue.

The minister said success of the government was not only provision of funds but also their efficient use which was the first priority of the present government. The government is trying to lift 5 million families living under poverty line through a comprehensive plan to provide services from birth to education and from education to employment throughout their life cycle.

He invited the participants to read the budget documents and said that the budget was prepared keeping in view development needs of the province alongside poverty reduction and food security.

He said pulses had been imported for 40 years while now the efforts were being made to meet the nutritional needs of the country with domestic production. He said that during COVID-19 lifestyle of the people had changed along with food needs. Further, imbalance in demand and supply created shortage and resulted in food inflation not only in Pakistan but globally.

Jawan Bakht said that it was incorrect to attach progress and development to the construction of buildings because for inclusive human development service delivery expenditure also played a vital role.

The minister said they had focused on real development. He said ‘atta” was available to five-star hotels at the subsidised rate which was not right.

Punjab Agriculture Minister Syed Hussain Jahania Gardezi claimed that the province harvested 1.5m tonnes more wheat in the recent season than the last year. He said the boost in the agriculture economy would reduce poverty and provide food security.

He emphasised the need to increase investment in the agricultural sector to reduce inflation. He said that agriculture sector grew 2.7 per cent in the current year while the farmers were paid higher prices for their crops. GCU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi appreciated the efforts and involvement of stakeholders in the field of agriculture for its modernisation.

Prof Dr Sohail Malik said that growth rate in policy making should be determined by impact rather than statistics. Lack of monitoring and evaluation in government agencies is adding to the problems. He said the universities could be used for monitoring and evaluation to get better results.