The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government is all set to unveil an ambitious Rs 495 billion provincial budget for Financial Year 2016-17 on June 13, an increase of around Rs 8 billion from last year’s budget.
A well-placed source in the KP government told Pakistan Today that the budget would contain ‘revolutionary measures’ aimed at increasing provincial revenues while steps are being proposed to generate more hydel power to meet the energy crisis.
“Despite limited resources and inadequate financial assistance from the federal government, the KP coalition government has been directed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq to include more pro-poor steps to provide relief to the common man,” the source said.
“We have been working on several revolutionary steps to create more jobs for youth which is the reason behind the success of PTI in elections. At a recent budget meeting, Imran Khan had expressed his displeasure over the budget proposals and had asked Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to make the budget poor-friendly,” a PTI leader said.
The PTI leader said that the new directions by PTI chief would now be inculcated in the budget which has now been delayed till June 13. “The KP government had earlier planned to present the provincial budget on June 6,” the source added.
Budget delayed in consensus with other provinces:
However, KP Finance Minister Muzaffar Said Khan told Pakistan Today that there was no delay on part of the KP government in presenting the budget, claiming that the date had been pushed forward on the request of the federal and other provincial governments.
“It is true that we had planned to present our budget on June 6 and a summary had been moved in this regard. However, during a recent meeting with Federal Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar and provincial finance ministers of the other provinces, we were asked to present our budget after the Punjab provincial budget,” he said.
“The Punjab government intends to present their budget on June 6 while Sindh would likely announce its budget on June 9. Balochistan would announce its budget after KP,” he said.
When asked whether Imran Khan or Sirajul Haq had given their inputs for the provincial budget, the minister said that he had not given any briefing to the two party chiefs.
Revenue, energy measures main focus:
Muzaffar Said Khan said that the provincial government was focusing on measures to increase provincial revenues.
“We are announcing incentives for new investors, business persons and entrepreneurs in all fields. We would lure more investments to help generate employment and business opportunities for youths who have voted for us,” he said, adding that the government wanted to increase its revenue gradually without imposing new taxes.
“Our measures are not focused on new taxes. We want to offer more incentives to entrepreneurs and the provincial government will encourage construction of commercial plazas, business centers and IT parks,” he added.
Muzaffar Said said that energy generation was another priority for the provincial government.
“Though we generate surplus power, our people are suffering due to energy crisis because of the federal government’s policies. But we are now taking new measures to produce more electricity,” he said, adding that they were focusing on hydel power generation.
“We will be eyeing small dams to generate power which would be distributed at local levels. We will be developing tunnels to divert watercourses towards dams which could then generate inexpensive electricity,” said the minister.
Other than energy generation, the provincial government is also planning to announce incentives for the agriculture sector.
“We are planning new measures for the farming community to help increase the per acre yield of all crops. The incentives include tax concessions on import of new and cheaper agricultural tools, tractors, etc while we would also train farmers to get more yield per acre,” he added.
He said that the farming community would also be provided loans on low markups to help generate better crops.
Development of Southern Districts under CPEC:
Muzaffar Said Khan said that the KP government had demanded specific development projects in the southern districts of the province and the federal government had assured them that the development there would be undertaken under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“We have been assured that the federal government would soon start construction work on Kohat-Jund Road. Moreover, doubling the Indus Highway Route would also start which would benefit the southern districts. Chashma Right Bank Canal would help irrigate 300,000 acres of land in the area. Barani Dam would also help more irrigation and power generation for people of Dera Ismail Khan,” the minister added.
Asked whether any measures would be announced for Peshawar and adjoining areas, the minister said that the federal government had promised to provide funds for Peshawar Greater Water Scheme which would help in providing clean drinking water for residents of Peshawar and adjoining areas. He said a special package would be launched for the people of Manshera, another area that had been neglected in the past.