KP budget, poor-friendly, austerity-oriented: Siraj

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Sirajul Haq on Sunday said that the provincial government presented poor-friendly and austerity-oriented budget for next financial year 2014-15.
Addressing a post-budget press conference here, he said that government had allocated Rs 7.90 billion for initiating pro-poor programmes like health insurance scheme, insulin for life, mother & child health programme, B.Sc/M.Sc nursing training programme, Immunization programme, Rokhana Pakhtunkhwa Programme, Iqra Education promotion & voucher scheme, scholarship scheme for girls’ students (Torghar district), Stars of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Third Party Validation, long-term loans for industrial development and provincial youth technical education scheme.
Administrative secretaries of different provincial departments were also present on the occasion.
He said that government would launch a special package for provision of cheap edibles items to destitute and low-income classes in the province. 
For this purpose, he said the provincial government would provide a subsidy of Rs 6 billion during next financial year. Under the package, he said every deserving family would be provided a subsidy of Rs 10 per kilogram on purchase of ghee and Rs 40 per kilogramme on purchase of flour in every month. The scheme will benefit about 4 million populations in the province.
The senior minister said that for the encouragement of business community, the provincial government has cut down the ratio of sales tax on major services from 16 percent to 15 percent while the ratio of sales tax on minor services had decreased from 16 percent to 10 percent.
He said that the provincial government has announced education emergency and has allocated a record amount of Rs 111 billion for the three educational sectors of elementary, secondary, higher and technical, which is 33.16 percent of the current expenditure and 27.47 percent of the total annual budget.
The senior minister said that significant steps taken in this regard by the provincial government are included the establishment of Chief Minister’s Endowment Fund, unified education system, special enrolment campaign, provision of free textbooks, scholarship programme for unemployed post-graduate students, monitoring system, cluster system, Tameer-e-School Programme and recruitment of teachers through National Testing Services (NTS).
He said that besides launching 69 projects worth Rs.29 billion under Clean and Green Peshawar Plan, a mass transit system is also being introduced in the provincial metropolis. 
He said that the provincial government has an outstanding amount of at least Rs.140 billion against WAPDA and federal government. He gave the credit of the payment of extra-budgetary Grant of Rs.1.504 billion by the government to the province over good balance management to the department of finance.
Siraj-ul-Haq said that under the constitutional right on gas produced in the province, the provincial government has planned the utilization of the surplus gas for generation of 400 megawatt, which would be supplied to establish new industrial estates to provide employment opportunity to 0.4 million youth.
Similarly, he said the PTI led coalition government is also paying special attention to the abolition of all kinds of discriminatory treatment to women and for this purpose has established Provincial Commission on Status of Women.
Regarding austerity steps, he said the provincial government had imposed complete ban on medical treatment outside the country, attending of abroad training, workshops and seminars by both public representatives and government officials while purchase of new vehicles except for development schemes has also been banned.
He said for promotion of industrial, trading and economic development, the provincial government wanted to establish a stock exchange in Peshawar and recommended federal government for taking further measures in this regard. 

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