LAHORE - The adviser to Punjab CM Zulfiqar Khosa has said that the federal government has been scaring away foreign investors wanting to invest in Punjab.
In a post-budget briefing at CM Secretariat, Zulfiqar Khosa termed the provincial budget pro-poor and reforms-oriented. He was accompanied by Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, finance secretary Tariq Bajwa and P&D Chairman Javed Aslam.
He said the provincial government, first time in the history, has succeeded in utilising 80 per cent of the ADP during the concluding fiscal year 2011-12. Punjab could never exceed from 30 to 40 per cent consumption of the annual development funds.
However, he did not mention that the government utilised 80 per cent of the revised ADP, which was in fact reduced by 36 per cent of the total ADP of Rs220 billion allocated in the budget 2011-12.
Responding to a question, he said that Punjab government allocated Rs 9 billion last year for power generation projects and allocation this year has been increased to Rs 10 billion, which is though not a significant amount in view of energy crisis in the country, yet it is an initiative towards a public-private partnership in power generation.
The proposed 500MW project to be started in the ongoing year was not initiated as the Punjab accuses the Centre of creating hurdle in this regard by not issuing power tariff structure for the provinces.
The provincial government has decided to make a comprehensive and effective policy for youth employment, he said. In this regard the government has earmarked billions of rupees for self-employment of the youth, he stated.
To another question, he said that not a single penny has been diverted from South Punjab to the north from Annual Development Funds and the whole allocation for the area was fully utilised.
Addressing the briefing, Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman said that the government announced many public-welfare projects, including Rs 4 billion for distribution of laptops among students, Rs500 million allocated for the youth festival.
The government promised to hire 80,000 youth in the next fiscal year. The provincial government also announced increasing the minimum wage to Rs 9,000, which is Rs 1,000 higher than the minimum wage fixed by the federal government, he added. He said that the green tractor scheme and the yellow cab schemes would continue in 2012-13.
The Punjab government also announced increasing the salaries and pensions of its employees by 20 per cent from July 1, 2012-13. The amount of other subsidies has been increased to Rs 34 billion from Rs 30 billion last year. Out of which, Rs 27.50 billion would be spent on keeping flour rates stable and Rs 4 billion for Ramazan package. The transport subsidy is estimated at Rs 2 billion, and Rs 1 billion have been reserved for providing solar panels to 50,000 poor families.
Besides, the government has also declared to implement austerity measures more strictly and announced further 5 percent cut in perks and salaries of the cabinet members, amounting to 30 percent in total.
While the provincial budget intends to have a special focus on generation of electricity by allocating Rs10 billion, it provides comprehensive relief to the general public. It also allocates a handsome amount of Rs 34 billion for subsidies specially to keep edibles’ rates in control, something which was notably missing in the federal budget.
In the same way, for the upcoming year, office expenditures of ministers and the Chief Minister’s Secretariat has also been reduced by 30 per cent. Furthermore, all the ministers and government servants would use official vehicles in accordance with their entitlement only.
The cabinet had also okayed continuation of schemes like Ashiana, yellow cab and laptop during the financial year 2012-13, and in this regard Rs 2 billion have been allocated for Danish Schools and Rs 2 billion for 4 new Ashiana Housing schemes in different districts. Besides, the government plans to provide 50,000 homes with solar panels worth Rs 1 billion during the next fiscal year.
Easy loan schemes for women and small farmers have also been proposed in the tax-free Punjab budget and 15 per cent quota has been fixed for vacancies for women in government departments. For the next fiscal year, the government plans to spend Rs 80 billion on uplift projects in South Punjab, which is 32 percent of the total ADP.
The government proposed allocation of Rs14 billion for different projects for the welfare of women in several departments.
The minister said that construction of new women universities in Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan and Bahawalpur will be started next year.
‘Centre scaring foreign investors away from Punjab’