Punjab, KPK asked to slash non-PSDP budget

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By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday stressed upon the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to cut their non-development expenditures like the federal government, and create job opportunities in those urban areas hit hard by the current coronavirus pandemic.
The prime minister said due to Covid-19 pandemic, the economic situation worldwide was unusual. The upcoming fiscal budget was being presented in this extraordinary situation which required that non-development expenditures should be curtailed whereas development expenditures be enhanced. The prime minister was chairing a high level meeting over the upcoming proposed fiscal budgets of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the year 2020-21, PM office media wing in a press release said.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz, Minister for Industries Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, PM’s advisors including Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Ishrat Hussain, Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Lt. Gen. (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan, Punjab finance minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, KPK finance minister Taimur Salim Jhagra and other senior officials. During the meeting, the economic teams of chief ministers of Punjab and KPK presented detailed briefings on the revenue, expenditures and priorities contained in their respective proposed fiscal budgets for the year 2020-21and based upon ground realities.
Addressing the meeting, the prime minister underlined the need for specially prioritizing those projects and their implementation which would create employment opportunities and move the wheels of economy rapidly. For ensuring private sectors’ participation to meet the national and provincial development requirements, he also emphasized upon the need for facilitation of private sector to accomplish projects under the public private partnership. The prime minister also directed the provincial governments to specially focus on the development of industrial and agricultural sectors. The prime minister was briefed on the priorities being given in the proposed budgets regarding the special economic zones and promotion of agricultural sector. The prime minister directed the provincial governments to pay special attention on the upgradation projects of health sector, so that the general public could get quality health services.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has chaired a meeting to review recommendations for the next budget of the federal, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments, media reported on Sunday. The meeting was attended by Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shibli Faraz, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Hammad Azhar, Asad Umar, Lieutenant General (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Ishrat Hussain, Zulfiqar Bukhari, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, KP CM Mahmood Khan, provincial finance ministers and other high-level officials.
Punjab CM Usman Buzdar gave a briefing to the premier regarding the recommendations for the budget of the fiscal years of 2020-21. The KP chief minister briefing PM Khan over the provincial government’s expenditures and revenue.
“The world is facing uncertainty related to the economy due to coronavirus pandemic and the new budget is being present amid the unusual situation. I prefer to ensure the cuts in non-development expenditure in order to increase the allocations for development spendings.”
The premier urged increasing employment in those areas facing disasters of the pandemic besides giving relaxation to the private sector to complete their projects. PM Imran Khan also directed the provincial governments to further reduce unnecessary expenditure and promotion of development projects to upgrade the health sector.
Earlier on Saturday, it emerged that the federal government had decided to present a tax-free budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 in a step to provide relief to the masses. Sources privy to the matter said that the government will not introduce any new tax in the forthcoming budget while harsh measures will be taken to curb tax evasion. Federal Board of Revenue will be given special directions/powers to stop tax evasion in the country. The government will curtail its expenditures and will not increase the pension of the retired government employees, the sources added.
“International Monetary Fund (IMF) is emphasizing the government to set Rs5,100 billion tax collection target for the fiscal year 2020-20 while the Finance Division proposed to set a target of Rs4,600 billion.”