PESHAWAR, June 17: In the budget for financial year 2013-14, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday announced several austerity measures, including cutting the non-salary expenditure of the Governor and Chief Minister’s Houses and their respective secretariats 50 per cent.
In the budget speech, provincial finance minister Sirajul Haq told the House that the austerity measures had been taken so that the people should follow the government in their life.
However, the minister’s speech did not mention whether the non-salary expenditure include the chief minister’s discretionary funds.
Similarly, it had no mention of how much money the government is to generate by cutting the non-salary expenditure of the Governor and Chief Minister’s Houses and their respective secretariats.
The minister said there would be complete ban on medical treatment abroad of the governor, chief minister, speaker and members of the provincial assembly (MPAs).
He, however, said individual cases would be considered with the approval of the chief minister in case treatment of a particular disease was not available in the country.
Mr Haq also announced a ban on purchase of new official vehicles.
He announced 15 per cent cut in petrol/diesel expenditure of the public office holders and that all those found using petrol or diesel in excess would be made liable to follow the policy.
The minister announced ban on free stay in government rest houses, lodges, guest houses and bungalows across the province and said those staying on these premises would pay the charges irrespective of his or her official position.
For social welfare and women development, Mr Haq announced allocation of Rs492.805 million.
Of the money, Rs392.805 million is for 21 ongoing and Rs100 million for 10 new projects.
The budget is almost equal to that of the current year i.e. Rs493 million and around 10 per cent more than the revised estimate of Rs447 million for the current year.
The minister said social welfare complexes would be set up in different districts, while steps would be taken for the welfare of handicapped persons, women, drug addicts and beggars.
According to the budget document, money will also be provided for new initiatives like establishment of a model welfare home for women and construction of Darul Qafala and drug addicts rehabilitation centre in Peshawar; establishment of a Darul Aman (shelter home) for women in Dera Ismail Khan; construction of a workingwomen hostel in Peshawar; and strengthening of women skills development centres in the province.
The ongoing schemes for well-being of destitute women, orphans, children, beggars, drug addicts and special persons will continue.
Under the ongoing Tanzeem Lissail-i-Wal Mahroom project, various activities pertaining to health, education and social welfare will be carried out for the vulnerable groups in the province.
In the budget, the minister announced several schemes for utilising the youth potential and one of the schemes is the establishment of ‘Jawan Markaz’ youth centre, preferably in existing government buildings.
“These centres on divisional level will be provide the youths with career counseling, sports events, mobilisation opportunities, awareness campaigns etc. A sum of Rs70 million has been allocated for the purpose during 2013-14,” he said.
Mr Haq said a sum of Rs500 million had been allocated for provision of a stipend of Rs2,000 per month to those securing a master’s degree in 2013-14.
He said the government had earmarked a sum of Rs120 million for bearing the training charges as well provide stipend to students between the ages of 18 and 25 years, who undergoes technical training.
According to the budget, the provincial government is to set to set up ‘Youth Challenge Fund’ to encourage local entrepreneurship in the province.
“Rs2 million will be provided as seed money to 50 top business proposals prepared by young business planning youth to be assessed through a transparent system of competition. A sum of Rs120 million has been allocated for the purpose in the next fiscal year.”
Also, the budget document said the government announced Madrasa Interest-Free Micro Finance Credit Scheme according to which an interest-free loan of Rs25,000 to Rs50,000 would be provided to seminaries in 12 backward districts to be selected on the basis of credible survey.
A sum of Rs1 billion has been earmarked for the purpose during 2013-14.