PM pledges jobs as govt sets 3.5pc GDP target for 2023-24

Shehbaz Sharif wants laptop scheme for youth, Kissan package be included in PSDP n Directs ministry to allocate special funds for IT, agriculture, renewable energy sectors n Planning minister says Rs1100b being allocated for development projects in next fiscal year
n Ahsan lashes out at PTI for allowing import of luxury items worth 84 billion dollars.


ISLAMABAD    -   Prime Minister Mu­hammad Shehbaz Shar­if on Friday issued clear directions to include on priority, such projects in the upcoming de­velopment budget that help in ensuring import substitutions, expand­ing export volume, and bringing innovation in various sectors.

The prime minis­ter also directed to al­locate special funds in the development pro­gramme for the wel­fare and development of the country's youth. Chairing a meeting to review the budget pro­posals with respect to the Public Sector De­velopment Programme (PSDP) 2023-24, She­hbaz Sharif said that in the upcoming bud­get, projects relating to higher education, pro­fessional training and job creation for the youth must be added in the programme. 

He also asked for the estab­lishment of Pakistan Endow­ment Fund to provide higher education to the youth. 

The laptop programme should also be included in the upcoming PSDP to distribute free laptops among the top performing students to equip them with modern technology skills, he added.

He said through the endow­ment fund, the youth should be given professional and higher education besides skill-based training in IT sector. The prime minister also stressed the need to give special importance to merit and transparency while providing scholarships and ed­ucation to the youth. 

PM Shehbaz directed to con­tinue the projects initiated un­der the Kissan Package while renewable energy projects should also be made part of the development budget. The prime minister also directed to allo­cate special funds in the upcom­ing budget for projects to bring innovation in the energy sector.

He said all the slow ongo­ing projects under the PSDP that had lost their importance, should be removed from the de­velopment budget. 

All stakeholders of the rele­vant sectors and the allied par­ties should be consulted be­fore including any development project in the budget and their proposals should also be con­sidered, the prime minister di­rected. Earlier, the meeting was briefed in detail about the pro­posals for adding new projects in the upcoming fiscal year and progress on the ongoing proj­ects. It was informed that as per the direction of the prime minister, projects related to the agriculture sector, renew­able energy, higher education for youth, professional training and job-raising schemes would be important part of the devel­opment budget. 

The meeting was further told that the IT sector development and export boosting projects would also be part of the devel­opment budget. 

Shehbaz Sharif was informed that the Prime Minister Kissan Package and Youth Empower­ment Programme, that had been included in the budget 2022-23, were yielding fruits now as over 60,000 youth were being provided internship in various government development proj­ects whereas the production of wheat, broke the 10-year record this year. 

The meeting was attended by federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ah­san Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Rana Tanvir Hussain, Advisor Ahad Khan Cheema, Special Assis­tants to Prime Minister Malik Ahmad Khan, Ataullah Tarrar, Jehanzeb Khan and other rele­vant officials.

Meanwhile, Minister for Plan­ning, Development and Spe­cial Initiatives Professor Ahsan Iqbal on Friday said the govern­ment had approved Rs 1,100 billion development budget for the upcoming fiscal year aimed at achieving the required goals of economic growth.

Addressing a news confer­ence here, he said out of the to­tal budget, Rs 950 billion would be utilised under the Public Sec­tor Development Programme (PSDP 2023-24) and Rs 150 bil­lion under the public-private partnership to execute different development schemes.

Initially, he said, the Finance Ministry had proposed Rs 700 billion for the PSDP 2023-24 which were extremely insuffi­cient. “So we made a written re­quest to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to increase the amount of development budget to achieve the economic growth, and the PM has approved Rs 1,100 bil­lion development budget.”

In 2018, the minister said, he had presented a development budget of Rs 1,000 billion, and when the incumbent govern­ment came into power last year its size came down to Rs 550 billion. “Now after a period of five years there will be a devel­opment budget of Rs 1,100 bil­lion, which reflects our priority for the national development.”

Today, he said, the country was facing economic difficulties all because of the failed policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-In­saf (PTI) government, which during its last year allowed $ 84 billion import of luxury items and obliged friends for showing artificial growth, but the trade deficit mounted to $ 50 billion.

“It was the turning point that pushed the country into the se­vere economic crisis that has eaten away all the foreign ex­change reserves,” he added.

The minister said when the current government took over last year, all the PTI lead­ers were saying that the coun­try would default in two to six months and there would be a Sri Lanka-like situation.

“But we by the grace of Allah Almighty steer the country out of the crisis despite massive destruction caused by the last year’s floods and the delayed programme of the IMF (Interna­tional Monetary Fund) by man­aging imports and taking cor­rective measures,” he said.

As a result of it, he said, Paki­stan was gradually moving to­wards economic stabilization and foreign investors were com­ing to invest in diverse fields.

Sharing details of the targets set for the next fiscal year by the Annual Plan Coordination Com­mittee (APCC), Ahsan Iqbal said 3.5 per cent growth targets had been fixed each for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the agriculture sector, manufac­turing 4.3 per cent and services sector 3.6 per cent.

As per the next year’s Annual Development Plan, he said, the inflation rate would be brought down from 29.2 per cent to 21 per cent; the national savings to be increased from 12.5 per cent to 13.4 per cent, exports to be taken over $ 30 billion as com­pared to the current year’s pro­jected $ 28 billion, $ 58.7 billion import projected for the next year and the trade deficit that currently stood at 1.1 per cent, to be brought down to -1.7 due to revival of the economy.

“We are making efforts with great prudence to complete­ly steer the national economy out of the crisis,” he said while stressing the need for expedit­ing the process of economic re­vival. He said the national de­velopment revolved around the framework of five Es (Exports, E-Pakistan, Equity, Energy and Environment), which needed vigorous pursuance to pull the country out of the financial cri­sis and turn around to a stable platform.

The minister said the gov­ernment was making efforts to complete the ongoing projects which were at advanced or mid­dle of the stages on priority so that the burden of throw-for­ward development schemes could be curtailed.

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