Rs. nine billion to be invested in energy sector: Khosa

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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During the next fiscal year, the Punjab government would invest Rs 9 billion in energy sector to generate 500 megawatts of electricity, disclosed Senior Advisor to Punjab CM Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa. He was addressing a post-budget press conference here on Saturday. Interestingly, the Senior Advisor was addressing the newsmen in the presence of newly appointed PunjabFinance Minister Kamran Michael.

Khosa told the newsmen that agreements have been signed with China and Iran for production of electricity from coal and water, and Turkey would also help Punjab in this connection. He observed that country-wide power shortage hit Punjab the most; due to which industries in the province suffered due to increase in production cost and also added miseries to the lives domestic users. “Proper planning could mitigate the energy problem within one year, but unfortunately the Federal government has no plan to overcome the problem. Hence, Punjab has taken the initiative to overcome the power shortage by investing Rs 9 billion in energy sector,” he added.

According to him, the budget is focused on giving relief to the people and in this connection the government has allocated Rs 30 billion in the form of subsidies. These funds will be used on subsidising wheat flour (Rs 25 billion) and transportation (Rs 1 billion), and setting up of Ramzan Bazaars (Rs 4 billion). Moreover, yellow cab scheme will be introduced in the next fiscal year, which will provide opportunities to unemployed youth to earn livelihood. Under the scheme, a graduate under the age of 35 years old would qualify to get a yellow cab. A mechanism is devised to ensure that 20,000 yellow cabs are distributed on merit.

He said the government has given a development-orientated budget; the allocation of Annual Development Programme (Rs 220 billion) constitutes 32 percent of the total budget, which is the highest till this date. He credited this government for allocating unprecedented huge funds for development.

“Education has been given top priority in the budget for which huge funds has been allocated. In the next fiscal year, the government will keep its focus on school enrolment, Punjab Education Endowment Funds and Danish Schools. We intend to open eight more Danish Schools in Punjab and four women universities in the province. It is also in the government’s programme to upgrade the existing schools for which sufficient funds have been allocated. In health sector, sufficient funds has been allocated for provision of free medicines, expansion of existing hospitals, construction of new hospitals and establishment of new medical colleges,” he added.

On taxation, the Senior Advisor said the government will tax the elite class of the province from FY2011-12 and in this connection taxes and duties has been imposed on farm houses, swimming pools and elite entertainment clubs. He also said the proceeds from these taxes would be diverted to education sector. He disclosed that in future more taxes will be imposed on the elite class and in this connection the government is studying its possibilities. “No tax has been imposed on the poor,” he added.

To a question on shortfall of provincial taxes during FY 2010-2011, he blamed the Federal government for Rs 15.5 billion shortfalls and added that it constitutes General Sales Tax (GST), which falls in the domain of the Federal government. He said during the ongoing fiscal year against the target of Rs 91 billion the government has collected Rs 75 billion so far. “Gradually, we will take over the collection of GST once the provincial tax authority is set up,” he added. While responding to a question, he said the Punjab government has not neglected the southern Punjab; in fact the government has allocated huge funds for development of southern Punjab. “We are focused to address their problems,” he added.

To another question, he said Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Raiwind is not a farmhouse and hence it does not qualify for farmhouse tax. Punjab Finance Minister Kamran Michael also spoke on the occasion for a few minutes but he reiterated the remarks of the senior advisor.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011


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