Mujtaba terms Punjab budget cash-back

Our Correspondent
Saturday, Jun 15, 2024

LAHORE:Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman Friday said that the Punjab government presented a tax-free, surplus budget with a record allocation for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) and termed it a cash-back budget.

Addressing the post-budget press conference here Friday, he explained that cash-back budget meant that the government has money in the kitty to meet the expenses of the entire ADP. By the end of the next fiscal year, everyone would see a visible improvement in the use of the development funds, he added. ‘Our budget covered all the sectors, no one was left out,’ he added. Punjab Senior Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, and other official concerned were also present on the occasion.

The minister claimed that the tax rates were not revised to avoid putting an extra financial burden on the people. However, the provincial resources targets set in the budget after expanding the tax base in Punjab.

He claimed that budgetary measures of the Punjab government would create 100,000 jobs in the province during FY2024-25. He credited the PMLN government for bringing down the inflation rate from 30 percent to 11.8 percent and he was confident that it would decline to 5 percent. Gradually poverty would decline; it takes time, but the people’s lot would improve, he claimed. The minister said that there was no increase in the property tax; only its mode of calculation was being changed. ‘Right now, the property tax was calculated on a property’s rental value, but from the next fiscal year it would be calculated on the value of a property based on DC rates; this was an international standard. It would be implemented from January 1, 2025, as the work on this transition was still in progress,’ he added. He mentioned that the government has earmarked Rs10 billion for the local government elections, adding that the government has taken several initiatives in the past 100 days to restructure government departments and subsequently, improve governance in the province.

Earlier, Marriyum Aurangzeb stressed the importance of paying taxes, saying everyone has to pay their taxes to bring prosperity to the country, ‘every individual has to contribute’. The new budget served as a policy statement, making difficult decisions while providing stability to both the people and the economy, she claimed.

The basic health units and other health facilities would undergo complete reconstruction in this budget. Major hospitals, including the Nawaz Sharif Cancer Hospital and others in various cities, were included in the budget. Additionally, a health insurance scheme for journalists has been initiated, she added. Furthermore, budget places special emphasis on education, with the allocation for the education sector increased to Rs670 billion. ‘There is a particular focus on children's education, and a new initiative will provide IT skills to village girls from their homes. Moreover, for the first time in the education sector, there was an increased focus on teacher training and the quality of education,’ she added.

Similarly, special attention is given to agriculture sector as the government prioritised the prosperity of farmers, with dedicated funds for crop seeds and solar systems. The agriculture budget includes the Kisan Card and Tractor Scheme, and a scheme related to livestock.

The government has earmarked Rs120 billion funds for solid waste management. Regarding environmental changes, she said that a Smog-Free Lahore project has been introduced, with allocated funds to ensure its implementation.

She denied accepting the assertion made by the PTI, saying that the incumbent Punjab government did not place their plaques on projects launched by the former PTI provincial government.