–Shah announces soft loans for SMEs, agriculture, livestock
KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the budget for next financial year, 2020-21, will be coronavirus impact-oriented; according to which priorities would be given to health services, employment generation, social security, and innovation in the education sector.
The chief minister was presiding over a meeting to set a strategy for the upcoming budget in which Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, CM Coordinators Haris, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem and his team, Secretary Finance Hassan Naqvi, his team and other concerned were present.
The chief minister said that coronavirus emergency indicators such as an increase in expenditures, decrease in government revenues, the decline in exports, unemployment, and loss of purchasing power needed to be addressed with a new strategy.
He told his finance and planning & development (P&D) team that the first and top priority would be given to strengthening health systems under which Covid-19 emergency hospitals would be established.
“We are already establishing Coronavirus Emergency Center (CEC) at NIPA and similar facilities would be developed at all the divisional headquarters,” he said. He added that all the other hospitals would be equipped with necessary gadgets.
Talking about employment, Shah said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were hit hardest by the pandemic, therefore, soft loans to be given to SMEs, apart from giving them other concessions and subsidies.
“Short term loans would be up to Rs500,000 to small business and Rs2 million to medium enterprises,” he added.
Shah said that the investment would be made in the agriculture sector where soft loans for purchasing export quality seeds, DAP, urea on subsidy) would be advanced so that export quality rice, pulses and other crops could be cultivated.
“I would direct minister agriculture to guide the growers, particularly the small ones to switch them over to seasonal crops, new cash crops and export-oriented crops so that they can revive themselves and contribute in the national economy,” he said.
He said that loans would also be advanced for livestock and poultry. “This is the best business if the cattle are grown on scientific and healthy grounds – their demand in the international market is always on the rise,” he said.
He added that the livestock & fisheries department would be activated to help the people engaged in livestock and fisheries sectors.
Shah said that in the next budget, he wanted to start a poverty alleviation programme under which interest free loans to be given to individuals to start their business for which the government or its partners would offer technical assistance.
These loans would be given to those who want to switch over from small business activities to other things or start afresh.
He added that womenfolk would be given priority and importance.
The CM said that despite limited resources and a pandemic, we have to focus on the education of our children, adding that new trends of teaching would be introduced so that educational activities keep thriving.
“I have tasked the education minister with working out a detailed education plan, online and in classes so that it can be implemented through the next budget,” he said.