Punjab to sideline Rs 300b for ADB




The Punjab government is likely to earmark about Rs 300 billion for the Annual Development Programme 2013-14 with a primary focus on development of the energy sector.

The budget will be announced on June 17 for which session of Punjab Assembly is already in order.

Sources revealed that sufficient funds would be available for the completion of projects relating to the energy sector, besides initiating new schemes.

It is learnt that Punjab government will promote the use of alternative sources of energy to meet the shortage of electricity in the province.

“The provincial government will start projects that will rely on solar energy to generate electricity. In this respect the expertise and cooperation of Chinese firms will be sought,” a senior official disclosed.

He was of the view that already the Punjab government was engaged with Chinese firms to explore the prospects of power generation through solar energy.

The budget will also encourage the use of alternative means of energy.

Health, education and irrigation would be other areas of interest for the Punjab government in the upcoming ADP.

Interestingly, the Punjab government would have no shortage of funds this time.

It will get over Rs 700 billion from the federal government as its share from the divisible pool. It is also likely to save a greater chunk of funds that often consumed to finance increase in the salary of government employees. In the federal budget, the government did not announce pay raise for employees and provincial governments have no choice but to follow suit.

Sources said the Planning and Development Department (P&D) was in the final stage of finalising the ADP. One senior official said the figure would be close to Rs 300 billion, but there could some last-minutes changes. The final figures would be available in a day or two, he added further.

This time around, the MPAs will not get development funds. It is also interesting to see what austerity measures are adopted in the budget to divert funds for the energy sector.

The PML-N government has been criticised in its last term for not doing much to develop its energy sector to counter rampant load shedding.