ISLAMABAD: Here are the highlights of the federal budget 2014-2015 presented on Tuesday.
* BISP allocation to Rs.118 billion, representing approximately 200% increase since 2012-13;
* In the first phase, 500 Telecentres will be established in the four provinces and Islamabad. An investment of approximately Rs.12 billion shall be made on this program over the next three years.
* This year, Rs.125 million have been allocated out of National ICT R&D Fund to provide 500 scholarships in a transparent manner.
* The most important sub-sector claiming resources in our development plan is the water sector, where we are investing Rs.42 billion for projects in various parts of the country. A project that will be the future life-line of Pakistan is the Diamir Bhasha Dam, which will store 4.7 MAF of water and generate electricity of 4500 MW will be initiated.
* During the current year a sum of Rs.205 billion will be invested in water storage and energy sector. The projects included in the program include Neelum-Jehlum Hydro Power Project (969 MW), Diamir-Bhasha Dam and Hydropower Project (4500 MW), Tarbela Fourth Extension Project (1410 MW),Thar Coal Gasification Project (100 MW), Chashma Civil Nuclear Power project (600 MW), Two Karachi Nuclear Coastal Power Projects (2200 MW) with Chinese assistance, KeyalKhawarHydro Power Project (122 MW), AllaiKhawar Hydro Power Project (122 MW), Combined Cycle Power Projects at Nandipur(425 MW) and Chichoki Malian (525MW), Refurbishment and Up-gradation of Generation Units of Mangla Power Station, Up-gradation of Guddu Power Project (747 MW gas-based), conversion of oil based power projects to coal at Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro (3,120 MW), transmission network to evacuate power from Wind Power Projects in Jhimpir and Gharo, interconnection of Chashma Nuclear III and IV, interconnection of Thar Coal based Engro (1200 MW) and massive allocations to improve the transmission lines, grid-stations and distribution systems.
* Linking Sindh to Up-country through a rapid transit mode, is the 959 KM Karachi-Lahore motorway project for which Rs.25 billion have been allocated for land acquisition this year and Rs.30 billion in the next year’s development budget.
* Allocations have been made in the current budget for the Peshawar Northern-Bypass, Karachi Northern Bypass, Lyari Expressway, Dualization of Sukkur Bypass, and Lahore Eastern Bypass. Moreover Ratodero, Dadu-Sehwan Road and Rakhi-Gaj-Bewala East-West road are also being constructed to improve connectivity.
* Comprising 74 projects of motorways, highways, bridges, tunnels, and regional roads and a sum of about Rs.113 billion has been kept in the budget for this purpose.
* In the budget for 2014-15, Government has allocated amounts for doubling of track from Khanewal to Lalamusa,
* A path-breaking project of Islamabad-Murree-Muzzaffarabad Rail Link is being initiated and a new company with the name of Kashmir Railways is being established to construct and manage this exceptional project in the scenic area of Galyat and Kashmir.
* A sizeable allocation of Rs.20 billion has been made for 188 projects of the Higher Education Commission, which will support development plans of different universities all over the country.
* Setting up of EXIM Bank of Pakistan (Specialized DFI):The Government has decided to set up the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of Pakistan to enhance export credit and reduce cost of borrowing for exporting sectors on long term basis and help reduce their risks through export credit guarantees and insurance facilities. The bank will provide liquidity to exporters. Its authorized capital will be Rs.100 billion while the initial Paid-up Capital will be Rs 10 billion.
* Revitalizing Export Development Fund (EDF): The EDF was established through the contributions of the exporters for the promotion of exports.
* Establishment of Pakistan Land Port Authority:It has also been decided to establish Pakistan Land Port Authority to transform land ports into efficient facilitators of trade while being responsive to risks such as security issues, smuggling and human trafficking.
* Elaborate package of support and incentives is provided for the textile sector:
* The government is introducing Credit Guarantee Scheme in order to encourage banks for financing to unbanked small farmers. Government, through the State Bank of Pakistan, will provide guarantee to commercial, specialized and micro finance banks for up to 50% loss sharing.
* Reimbursement of Crop Loan Insurance Scheme (CLIS) Premium:All farmers obtaining loans for production of 5 major crops are eligible to benefit from this scheme. 700,000 farmers households/families will benefit from this scheme. Total budget cost of the scheme is Rs.2.5 billion.
* Government is introducing the Livestock Insurance Scheme for all farmers getting financing for up to 10 cattle. The scheme will cover livestock insurance in case of calamity and disease. The scheme will benefit 100,000 Livestock farmer households/families. An allocation of Rs.300 million has been made in the current budget for the scheme.
* Reduction in Sales Taxes on Tractors from 16 % to 10 %. To encourage establishment of processing units at such places, Government is introducing a policy to support processing projects in Makran,Gilgit Baltistan, Swat Valley and FATA. These units will enjoy duty and tax-free import of machinery not locally manufactured and will also have access to SBP LTF facility and 5 years tax holiday.
* Government has also decided to provide 50% airfreight subsidy for horticulture produce from Gilgit-Baltistan.
* Low Cost Housing Guarantee Scheme: The government has specially designed a program to provide housing credit to low cost housing units to enable the poor to have their own houses. Banks will provide loans of up to Rs.1 million and financial institutions. Refinance Company is being established with a broad shareholding of the Government of Pakistan, Commercial Bank, Development Finance Institutions, Multilaterals and others for this purpose, to generate long-term liquidity for housing finance.
* Provision of Rs.6 billion has been kept in the budget for PM’s low income housing scheme.
* To promote agricultural sector we are proposing concessions for encouraging tunnel farming by removing customs duty on import of plastic coverings and mulch film, anti-insect net and shade net. Sales tax on high irrigation equipment and equipment for green house farming is also proposed to be exempted.
* It is being proposed to reduce the corporate tax rate by one percent.
* Advance withholding tax on marriage centers being reduced to 5 %.
* It is being proposed to reduce tax liability of disbaled persons having income up to Rs.1 million by 50%.
Relief for Government Servents.
* A 10% ad-hoc relief will be allowed to all federal government employees with effect from 1st July 2014;
* A 10% increase will be allowed to those employees in Grade-1 to 15 drawing fixed medical allowance of Rs.1000 per month;
* A 5% increase will be allowed in conveyance allowance to those employees working in Grade-1 to 15;
* The post of superintendent is being upgraded from Grade-16 to Grade-17;
* One pre-mature increment will be allowed to employees of Grade-1 to 4.
* For welfare of the labor class, and in line with the increase in pay of government employees, the minimum wage rate is also being increased from Rs.10,000 to Rs.11,000.
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