LAHORE: The government has announced a Rs500 million development budget for human rights and minority affairs – Rs19 million more than the last year’s allocation of Rs 481 million.
According to budget documents, Rs463 million will be spent on development schemes for minorities. Rs22 million has been earmarked for scholarships for minority community students. Rs15 million will be spent on creating awareness about human rights. Last year, 580 educational scholarships were awarded to minority community students across the province.
An amount of Rs463 million has been reserved for completing ongoing schemes and those to be identified by the chief minister and minority MPAs. Scholarships will be awarded to 650 minority students.
The government says the budgetary allocation will help protect human rights and minorities. It says it is committed to fostering equality, unity, peace and harmony in society. Improving civic amenities in areas with high minority population has been given priority. Focus will be on the rehabilitation of graveyards and places of worship of minorities.
The government says it will work to lift the standard of education for students representing various minorities. Developing and implementing programmes related to fostering public awareness about human rights has been given priority.
Minority Development Funds have been announced for providing improved community living. The Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department has been tasked with spending the budgetary allocation.
According to budget documents, the department has been striving to achieve success in delivery of public service.
Lawyer Nadeem Anthony said the allocation had not grown in accordance with the rate of inflation. “Governments have traditionally neglected minorities while announcing budgets,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2015.
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