Govt decides to shut markets, malls by 8:00pm across country

Planning minister says energy conservation plan approved to minimise reliance on fossil fuel n NEC also approves national developmental outlay of Rs 2.709 trillion n PM Shehbaz directs to include mega incentives for IT sector in budget for FY 2023-24.


ISLAMABAD   -   The National Economic Council (NEC) on Tues­day approved the na­tional development out­lay of Rs2,709 billion for the upcoming budget. 

Following the NEC meeting, federal minis­ter for planning Minis­ter Ahsan Iqbal told re­porters during a press briefing that the NEC also approved GDP growth at 3.5pc and in­flation at 21pc during the FY 2023-24. 

He said that the meet­ing was presided over by the Prime Minis­ter, and was attend­ed by the chief minis­ters Punjab, Sindh, KP and Minister for Plan­ning Balochistan. The minister said that in or­der to conserve ener­gy and save foreign ex­change, the forum also approved the closure of shops and commer­cial centres across the country by 8pm. 

He said that the na­tional developmental outlay of Rs 2.709 tril­lion which includes the federal develop­ment outlay (PSDP) of Rs 1150 billion, includ­ing Rs 950 PSDP & Rs­200bln Viability Gap Funding (VGF), and provincial development outlay (ADPs) of Rs 1559 billion. The share of foreign exchange reserve in the national development outlay is Rs 644bln, which includes Rs 75bln in the Federal PSDP, while in the provincial ADPs its share is Rs 568bln. 

Of Rs 950bln PSDP, Min­istries/Divisions will get Rs 485bln, Corporations (NHA, WAPDA-Power) Rs 215bln and Provincial Projects under FD Rs42bln. The allocations for AJK and Gilgit Baltistan to Rs 61bln from Rs 55bln, merged district of KP from Rs 53bln to Rs 57bln, he added. Ahsan Iqbal said that the allocation for NHA in the upcoming PSDP has been en­hanced to Rs 161bln from the existing Rs 102bln, Water Re­sources from Rs 97bln to Rs 110bln, SDG’s Rs 90bln, HEC from Rs 44bln to Rs 59.715bln and Food and Agriculture from Rs 13bln to Rs 45bln.

For balanced regional devel­opment, an amount of Rs. 108 bln has been proposed includ­ing Rs. 57 bln for Merged Dis­tricts of KP, Rs. 32.5 bln for AJ&K and Rs. 28.5 bln for GB to bring them at par with other areas of country. Projects with 80% plus expenditure have been ad­equately financed for comple­tion by June, 2024.Around 52% of total allocation has been pro­posed for Infrastructure sector to ensure modern infrastruc­ture and to attract foreign direct investment

Within infrastructure, pro­posed allocation for Transport & Communication is Rs. 267 bil­lion (28% of the total size), Wa­ter Sector allocation is Rs. 110 billion (11.57%), Energy Sec­tor’s proposed allocation is Rs. 89 billion (9% of the total size), Physical Planning & Housing (PP&H) proposed allocation is Rs. 43 billion i.e. 4% of the to­tal size. The minister further in­formed that the major chunk, of the PSDP 2023-24, of Rs 137bln will be going to Balochistan, fol­lowed by Sindh Rs 80bln and Punjab 79bln. For out of school children Rs 25bln will be al­located in the next budget, he maintained 

He said that issues pertain­ing to energy and infrastruc­ture were discussed during the meeting. Energy has become a huge challenge for Pakistan due to global price hike, the minister said and added that Saudi Arabia has recently im­posed a cut of one million bar­rels on oil production, which poses a risk of oil prices hike to $100 per barrel.

The government wants to mi­nimise reliance on fossil fuel. It has been decided that no new power generation project will be installed on imported fuel, he said. Projects of solar, wind and hydel energy will be promoted and no new project will be in­stalled based on imported fuel, the minister added.

Similarly, measures relat­ed to energy conservation has also been approved by the NEC, he informed. The Plan­ning Minister said that the NEC had approved an energy con­servation plan under which shops and commercial centers across the country would be closed by 8pm.

Ahsan Iqbal said that earli­er the federal cabinet under a National Energy Conservation Plan in January 2023 had de­cided the closure of commercial centers and shops by 8.30pm. However, there was no repre­sentation of provinces in the cabinet meeting therefore the matter was again taken up in the NEC, where provincial gov­ernment representatives were also present. Now it is hoped that the provinces will ensure the implementation of the en­ergy conservation package that has been approved today, the minister maintained.

The steps for energy conser­vation recommended under this plan, such as the closure of shops and commercial cen­tres by 8pm, switching to LED lights and upgrading geysers to make them more energy ef­ficient, could help the country save up to $1 billion annually, Ahsan claimed.

Replying to a query on Health Card, the Minister informed that it is not sustainable to give free health facility to a Mercedes rid­er and bicycle rider. Therefore a committee has been constituted to rationalize the program and its beneficiaries.

The NEC also was briefed on 5Es Framework to Turn Around Pakistan- (Export, E-Pakistan, Environment & Climate Change, Energy & Infrastructure and Eq­uity & Empowerment,) trans­formational modal, the minister maintained.

The modal aim to accelerate the national growth and achieve the target GDP of $1000 billion. The NEC also approved Paki­stan economic outlook 2035, he informed.

The NEC was also briefed on 4RF i.e. Resilient, Recovery, Re­habilitation and Reconstruction Framework in the aftermath of catastrophic floods 2022. Var­ious projects have been envis­aged to implement 4RFs strate­gies and 5Es plans.

Also, the government has de­cided to make energy reforms part of the upcoming federal budget. The decision was made at a meeting on budgetary pro­posals for the energy sector with PM in the chair at PM office in Islamabad on Monday. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Shar­if also directed to take measures to fulfill the energy needs of the export industry on priority ba­sis. He said that renewable en­ergy projects should be started by reducing reliance on the ex­pensive imported fuel in a grad­ual manner. He said effective measures should be proposed in the next budget in order to control line losses and electric­ity theft. Shehbaz Sharif further advised to include wind and so­lar energy projects in the up­coming budget.

Emphasising the importance of an efficient transmission sys­tem, he said power transmis­sion projects should be com­pleted at the earliest. He said transformer metering should be made part of the next budget for the elimination of line losses and the pilferage of electricity.

The prime minister further directed to expedite the ongo­ing solarization projects in the country. He said early comple­tion of hydel projects should be given priority.The meeting was apprised that four phases of the bidding for solarization of gov­ernment buildings have been completed, after which several buildings are being shifted on the solar energy. A detail brief­ing was also given on the steps taken to provide uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to the export industry.

The Prime Minister directed to finalize these measures and include them to the next budget.

‘Mega incentives for IT sector’

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday di­rected relevant authorities to include mega incentives for the Information Technology sector in the fiscal budget 2023-24 to boost country’s IT export. 

Chairing a high-level meet­ing on promotion of the IT sec­tor, he directed to prepare a big package for the sector in the up­coming fiscal budget.

The prime minister decided to introduce fixed tax regime for the sector in the budget and also constituted a committee on it, besides directing the body to submit its recommendations immediately, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The meeting also accorded ap­proval in principle for providing special incentives to new busi­ness start-ups in the sector. 

Special concessions for pro­motion of business and trade through modern technology were also approved.

During the meeting, it was also decided to take the initia­tives that were crucial to en­courage youth for starting their own businesses. 

The prime minister approved a major decision of creating special training IT zones for promoting entrepreneurship.

He said that the government would spend huge amount on the training of youth in the sec­tor. Currently, a total of 45,000 young people across the coun­try were being trained in the sector, he added.

The prime minister further said that in the upcoming fiscal budget, the government would distribute 1,00,000 laptops among the youth on merit basis.

During the previous tenure of the PML-N government, they had distributed laptops among the country’s youth and by uti­lizing this facility, the young people brought foreign re­serves during the Covid pan­demic, he observed.

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