LAHORE, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 6th August, 2016) : Provincial Finance Minister Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said here Saturday the Punjab government consciously pursued a development agenda which was people-centric; expressly inclined towards lower income segments and areas, while public services in Punjab were also in favour of disadvantaged and less developed areas. "A careful balance is thus maintained between the objective of economic growth and equity," she said, asserting that over half of the district based allocations had gone to one district was not based on facts.
Dr Ayesha viewed that some sections of print and electronic media had reached this conclusion due to lack of understanding of the budget documents. "This is clear from the fact that according to these analyses total district based allocations are Rs 229 billion although the actual figure is Rs 550 billion for budget estimate of development in Punjab during FY 2016-2017, all of which will be spent in different districts. Therefore, any analysis of district wise allocations must take into account the total development budget instead of only a part of it," she elaborated.
The minister said, all districts were accorded due priority in allocation of the development programme. In fact, conscious effort was made to enhance allocation of budget to southern districts, which was higher than the population of these districts. If the Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2016-17 was analyzed from the district-wise allocation, the share of Lahore was 23 percent (not 58 percent), she maintained. "Lahore stands out due to three pioneering projects which began from this city, being the provincial metropolis.
These are, the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project (Rs 86.7 billion); Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (Rs 4 billion); and the Integrated Command Control and Communication Centre - Safe City Project (Rs 10.6 billion)," she clarified. The minister said the Punjab government was committed to extend such projects to other cities as well. The Provincial government was committed to even development of the entire province, in fact, more allocations for districts who have lagged behind in development.
"Examples of projects in such districts include: Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh; Teaching Hospital in D.G.Khan; Dualization of Hasilpur Bahawalpur Road; and Khawaja Farid Engineering University in Rahim Yar Khan. The allocations of Saaf Pani Project are also predominantly in Southern districts," she mentioned. Dr Ayesha said, the reason that Lahore did get 24 percent budget allocation was two-fold: Lahore, with its population of 9 million, was the second most populous city of Pakistan.
The city served as the economic hub of the province, like Seoul, London and New York City. More resources were spent in the metropolis to generate jobs for the immigrating workers from rural areas. Secondly, investment in these projects, though situated in Lahore, cater needs of the whole province. The first-rate health and education facilities were used by people from all over Punjab, she asserted. Dr Ayesha Ghause Pasha said that Punjab Growth Strategy 2015-2018 aimed at a holistic approach to development and growth by employing multiple methods that cater to urban along with rural areas. In this spirit, the comprehensive Annual Development Program 2016-17 had equitable distribution of development funds across sectors/regions, she concluded.