Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday that maximum funds would be allocated for public welfare projects in the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2014-15. The chief minister said more resources would be provided for education, health and other social sectors and due attention paid to the betterment of the common citizen in the budget.
He was presiding over a high-level meeting that reviewed the 2014-15 budgetary proposals for the Punjab.
The chief minister said the provision of relief and basic facilities to the masses was the agenda of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government and huge resources were being spent on the welfare of the citizens. He said the people were benefiting from the welfare programme and mega projects of the government. He said no additional burden would be put on the common man in the new budget and steps would be taken to raise the standard of living of the deprived segments. Sharif said flaws in the tax collection system would be addressed and automation introduced in all tax collection institutions. He directed the Punjab Information Technology Board chairman to evolve a comprehensive plan for automation of the tax collection system and said that recommendations should also be made for simplifying the tax recovery system.
Sharif said there was vast potential for increasing provincial resources and an effective strategy was needed for this purpose. He constituted a high-level committee for increasing resources of the province and improving the tax system and said the concerned departments should set tax collection targets and make comprehensive plans for meeting the targets.
He said uplift of backward areas was the top priority of the government and more resources should be allocated for that. He said maintenance of peace was essential for investment and rapid progress therefore maximum resources should be provided for the improvement of law and order. The finance secretary gave a detailed briefing regarding the budget.
Provincial Ministers Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Rana Sanaullah Khan, National Assembly member Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Special Assistant Azmul Haq, Parliamentary Secretary Rana Babar Hussain, the chief secretary and other senior officials attended.
Separately, a delegation from prominent Chinese companies Shandong Ruyi, Huaneng Shandong Company and Sepco-1 called on the chief minister on Sunday and said they would ensure that the energy projects they were implementing were completed within the stipulated period.
Talking to the Chinese delegation, Sharif said energy was badly needed for the industrial sector, in order to eliminate poverty, unemployment and end darkness and there was a need to resolve the crisis at the earliest. He said all-out measures were being taken to overcome the electricity shortage. He said the government was working around the clock to overcome the energy crisis and power generation projects were being completed expeditiously in all provinces and in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
He said the Pakistan-China friendship had been transformed into valuable bilateral economic ties and China had proved to be a sincere friend by extending invaluable cooperation to resolve the energy crisis in Pakistan. He said China had played a commendable role for the development of different sectors in Pakistan and supported it in every hour of need. Sharif said several Chinese companies were investing billions of dollars in the energy sector in Pakistan, including the Punjab, and the historic $32 billion economic package announced by China was a proof of the affection of the Chinese leadership for the Pakistani people.
The Chinese delegation said that the ties of friendship between Pakistan and China were strengthening and investment by Chinese companies would further promote bilateral trade relations. They said the 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Sahiwal would be completed within the scheduled time. The visiting delegation included Shandong Ruyi group chairman Yafu Qiu, group vice president Jerry Liu, Huaneng Shandong Company General Manager Wang Wenzong and Sepco-1 General Manager Wang Shoumin. The energy additional secretary and the Investment Board chairman and other officials were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2014.
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