People-friendly Punjab budget

PUNJAB excelled once again by presenting a tax-free record budget of Rs 1970 billion for the next financial year on Friday, which also envisages record development outlay of Rs 635 billion. Presenting the budget before the provincial assembly, Minister for Finance Ayesha Ghaus Pasha rightly took pride that the Government has succeeded in giving a balanced budget despite numerous challenges and difficulties. The budget truly reflects aspirations of the people and therefore, the negative attitude adopted by the opposition during its presentation was not understandable.
Punjab Government, under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, is already known for initiating and completing developmental projects in every nook and corner of the province in record time besides good governance and taking measures for resolution of day-to-day problems of the people at their doorsteps. The focus on development would surely accelerate the pace of socio-economic progress in different parts of the province including southern region, which is now getting more allocations as compared to past, depriving critics the opportunity to use it as a stick to lash out at the PML-N Government. The province deserves credit for formulating budgetary proposals in a way to get maximum benefit from the CPEC related projects like an apparel park near Lahore to facilitate relocation by Chinese investors of their value added textile industry. Education being key to progress and development, it is satisfying that a hefty amount of Rs 395 billion has been earmarked for the sector in the new budget to take care of provision of missing facilities, establishment of laboratories, upgradation of schools and colleges and much-needed scholarships for students who cannot afford to continue their studies because of financial woes. Allocation for higher education has also been increased significantly which would help address problems of the universities, enabling them to concentrate more on research and improve quality of teaching. Unemployment is another issue that directly impacts upon the common man and therefore, allocation of necessary funds to grant credit to six hundred and seventy thousand people during the year would be a step in the right direction. Two sectors that need more attention of the Government are provision of safe drinking water and citizens’ access to free treatment for Hepatitis-B and ‘C’, allocation for which should have been increased proportionately.

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