PESHAWAR: Spotlighting a trillion rupees ‘historic and tax-free’ budget, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said government will initiate mega projects to make the province self-sufficient in food and no longer reliant on others for wheat.
“This is going to be a historic budget and we are going to spend big,” a relaxed chief minister told a pre-budget media briefing here on Monday.
He said that government was focusing on important projects including Swat Expressway-II, Dir Expressway, Dera Ismail Khan-Peshawar Motorway and Chashma lift canal.
He said that irrigation scheme in Dera Ismail Khan would make the province self-sufficient in food. He added that the province would not have to face ban on wheat transportation again.
Mahmood says next budget to be ‘historic’, tax-free
Flanked by Minister for Finance Taimour Saleem Jhagra, Minister for Local Government Akbar Ayub and Special Assistant on Information Kamran Bangash, the chief minister said that credit must be given to his government to complete the flawed Peshawar BRT and Swat Expressway projects.
He said that government would present a tax-free budget. “We may withdraw some taxes and revise a few others but there would be no new taxes. We are going to go for tax reforms,” he added.
The chief minister said that after protracted negotiations with the federal government, the longstanding issue of net profit on hydel generation was resolved and the province would receive the amount on a regular basis. “We are going to get the money from the federal government instead of Wapda,” he added.
He said that it would be a good budget. “Despite Covid-19 and economic downturn, we have been able to continue with development path,” he added.
He agreed with a reporter that other provinces failed to fulfil their commitment and contribute to the development and mainstreaming of tribal districts. He said that federal government and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were shouldering the responsibility of bringing the tribal districts at par with the rest of the province.
“If you ask me what is my single achievement I would say the merger of tribal districts into KP and its seamless transformation. We are focusing on tribal districts and I am confident that with more money in the next budget, there would be significant improvement. Sehat Insaf Card is yet another achievement that provides healthcare access to all citizens of the province,” said Mr Khan.
Earlier, the finance minister highlighted the increase in KP’s own receipts from Rs25.6 billion in 2015-16 to Rs47.8 billion. He said that development spending had also increased by more than six times.
The minister said that development outlay for the 2021-22 would be more than Rs200 billion compared to Rs171 billion in 2020-2021.
He said that the government would fix minimum wages at Rs21,000 and announce increase in salaries of government employees. He added that he was striving to remove the disparity between different grades of the employees.
The minister said that Rashakai Special Economic Zone had already attracted $50 million investment so far. He said that hydel projects were also being undertaken. He said that the budget would focus on improving service delivery.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2021