Ishaq Dar key to Punjab budget preparation

LAHORE - Two-time former finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar is playing a key role in the preparation of the Punjab Budget 2010-11, to be presented in the Provincial Assembly on June 14, TheNation has learnt. PML-N sources privy to the developments in this regard told this correspondent on Tuesday that Punjab Government, keeping in view the economic expertise of Ishaq Dar, has engaged him to prepare a budget that should be better than the Federal Governments with a view to pacifying the masses aspirations. Ishaq along with his team members are stated to be giving final touches to the new budget, focussing on infrastructure development, as well as education, health and law and order sectors, with special emphasis on development allocations for Southern Punjab, as the PML-N was under sharp criticism from the Opposition about development in southern parts of the province, claimed the sources. Ishaq has assisted the provincial government in preparing a tax-free budget, while giving inputs for utilising funds under NFC Award on several public welfare projects, asserted the sources. PML-Ns economic specialist has been considering various options to manage the budgeting of additional responsibilities on departments after the elimination of Concurrent List in the wake of 18th Amendment, maintained the sources. The Opposition has been flaying the provincial government on financial matters, blaming it for overdrafting from the banks to the tune of billions of rupees. The Punjab budget has to also answer this question, which, however, is predominantly political in nature, but a positive and befitting answer to that would improve the image and show a good economic health of the province. It merits mentioning here that Ishaq Dars economic policy achievement in the then Nawaz Sharif government was export-led growth as a cornerstone of economic strategy. After holding the slot of Finance Minister on November 6, 1998, he negotiated an IMF rescue package to meet an economic crisis triggered by sanctions in the wake of nuclear tests in May that year. He was made Federal Finance Minister for the second time in the incumbent coalition government on March 31, 2008 but he resigned on May 12, 2008 due to PML-Ns differences with the PPP on the issue of judiciary. PPP, however, forced PML-N to join the Cabinet especially to benefit from Ishaq Dars expertise in the Finance Ministry. The renowned chartered accountant seems to be the only hope for Pakistans nose-diving economy. The former Federal Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin has admitted that Ishaq Dar played a vital role in helping the government clinch the NFC Award.

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