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.