Targeted subsidies for poor will continue: Hafeez

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KARACHI: The federal government on Monday said that “targeted subsidies” would continue to help the poorest of the poor to sustain. “I want to assure you that the government would try to do its best, would cut the expenditures… (and) continue targeted subsidies,” Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said at the PCP Corporate Philanthropy Awards 2010. The event was organised by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) and was attended by participants from corporate sector, whose donations, PCP Executive Director Anjum R Haq said, had increased tenfold in recent years. Haq said the corporate philanthropy had climbed to Rs 2.35 billion in 2009 against Rs 223 million in 2000.
The finance minister said a broad development approach was needed for the country to focus more on the key factors of human development, exports and the private sector.
Shaikh said the recent floods had devastated the infrastructure and according to initial estimates, had caused losses of around $10 billion. He said the country, transiting through difficult times, had started witnessing various ramifications of the natural calamity. The minister said under the government’s socio-human development plan, the provinces would for the first time be given about 50 percent more resources than they used to get in the past.
“The combined development programme for Balochistan would see an 82 percent increase, that means social and human development sector was the focus,” the minister said. He said more money would now be available with the provinces for human development. The finance minister was critical of the country’s “inefficient” development programmes, saying “it would be a good thing for the PCP to do some work on these programmes.” “Our development programmes are very inefficient, none of which get completed,” the minister lamented.
Announcing a donation of Rs 20 million for the PCP by the government, Shaikh lauded the corporate sector for their ‘generous’ contributions. Later, the finance minister told reporters that the government had been negotiating with the businessmen and traders for the last six months to address their legitimate concerns over the reformed GST. “The government is taking suggestions with an open mind.”