Squeezed ADP won’t stifle Punjab's growth, says minister

Updated October 18, 2018

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Punjab Assembly. — Photo/File
Punjab Assembly. — Photo/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government is maintaining a close liaison with the federal finance ministry to ensure full and timely transfer of the net hydel profit arrears and its share from the federal taxes to ward off any slippages in the provincial income estimated for the present financial year.

This was stated by Punjab Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht at the post-budget presser on Wednesday.

He was asked if the provincial government had in place an alternate plan to mitigate the impact of possible slippages in provincial tax collection target of Rs275.7 billion for the year and delays in the transfer of net hydel profit (arrears and fresh profit to be accrued this fiscal) of Rs41.2bn on its budget plans.

Last year, Islamabad had disbursed net hydel profits amounting to Rs17.5bn against the budget estimate of Rs32.8bn and the provincial tax collection fell short of the target by 10pc. In case of delays in transfer of the net hydel profit and slippages in provincial tax collection could compromise the provincial government’s effort to produce cash surplus of Rs147.8bn as required by the federal government to keep the consolidated national fiscal deficit at 5.1pc.

Minister says govt in contact with finance ministry for timely transfer of hydel profit arrears and share from taxes

The minister said the government planned to launch Rawalpindi Ring Road project and focus on building East-West corridor infrastructure in the province instead of previously prioritised North-South corridor. He said the government planned to partner with private sector for infrastructure development in the province under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. “These infrastructure projects, and others, could be handed over to private sector on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis,” he said.

The Makhdum said the Punjab government was developing its five-year growth strategy (2018-2023) that will be announced in a month. “The future development planning and tax policy of the province will be synchronised with the objectives of the strategy,” he said. “The future development spending in the province will be evidence-based and outcome-oriented.”

The minister justified the drastic reduction of over 62pc in the annual development programme (ADP) of the province to Rs238bn, saying the PTI government would discourage showing in the budget exaggerated and unrealistic development targets for drawing political mileage like the previous PML-N regime. “We will try to be as transparent as possible and accountable to the public for our policies. You will see that we will improve both social and economic infrastructure and stimulate industrial and agriculture growth with far less resources than wasted by the previous government on politically-motivated mega projects like metro train in Lahore.”

He said the reduction in provincial development investment will not impact growth.

He also blamed the previous government for substantial increase of 23pc in current expenditure this year, saying it had been spiked to pay for increase in salaries and pension bill. He said the first PTI budget targeted regional equalisation in the province.

“We are not only focusing on south Punjab but also the underdeveloped western and northern districts of the province.”

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018