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June 20, 2021

Funds to be released from July 1: KP finance minister

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Saturday said the government would release all funds for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) on July 1.

Speaking at the post-budget press conference, he said it had been decided to release the funds for the fiscal year from July 1 so that the uplift projects could be completed on time.

The minister said the government was trying to ensure judicious utilisation of the development budget by executing schemes without any discrimination or political consideration.

He pointed out that the poor and middle classes were given relief in the budget by waiving off agriculture and professional tax.

“The tax waiver will not affect the budget receipts,” he hoped, adding, the provincial revenue collection had crossed Rs50 billion for the first time. He said it amounted to 68 percent rise in two years.

The minister argued that increasing salaries and the health budget would help provide relief to government servants, particularly teachers and health professionals, who rendered sacrifices in the fight during Covid-19 pandemic.

He expressed optimism that the public servants would now concentrate on service delivery.

He said the Finance department was working on reforms to consolidate 106 different types of allowances and remove the disparity in the salaries and allowances of government employees.

Taimur Jhagra added that 17,000 new posts would be created to provide jobs to the youth.

To a question regarding delay in release of net hydel profit (NHP) arrears to the province, he said that Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin had assured that Rs35 billion arrears on account of NHP would be released in two tranches.

However, he said unlike the past governments, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has streamlined things by releasing Rs3 billion a month since November last.

He dispelled the impression that the cut in allocation to local governments in the budget from 30 percent to 20 percent would have a negative impact on these institutions.

He pointed out that the TMAs’ budget has been increased and the new local government system was limited to two-tiers instead of three.

To a question about less spending on development of the newly merged districts, he maintained that more than Rs100 billion were spent in tribal districts. He added that allocations have been increased to Rs199.3 billion in the new budget.

The minister admitted that three provinces were reluctant to pay their promised share to the merged districts under the National Finance Commission (NFC) award and said the issue would be raised at the next meeting of the commission.