LAHORE: The PML-N-led coalition government in Punjab has decided to continue its political rival PTI’s flagship universal health insurance programme or Insaf Sehat Card by allocating a hefty amount of over Rs127 billion in its first Annual Development Plan worth Rs685bn announced for 2022-23 on Wednesday.

Before coming into power on April 16, the PML-N had been critical of the health insurance scheme terming it an attempt to appease the PTI supporters in the private sector healthcare.

Overall, the social sector has claimed the lion’s share of 40 per cent in the ADP, which is 22pc more than last year’s Rs560bn. At least 24pc of the ADP has been earmarked for infrastructure development, 6pc for production and 2pc for the Services sector, while 28pc funds have been set aside for other programmes and special initiatives for 2022-23.

The government says that public investment-led economic growth, inclusive and balanced regional development, a transformation of the agriculture sector, human development through better skills, strengthening compliance with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring water and food security, support for public-private partnership (PPP), improving amenities through district development package were the guiding principles for deciding the next year’s ADP.

Sets aside Rs127bn for PTI’s signature Insaf Card initiative

Quoting a survey which reveals that 42pc households in south Punjab are poor as compared with 19pc in the rest of Punjab, the government will be focusing on “regional equalization” through the 35pc (Rs240bn) Ring Fencing budget for the backward southern belt of the province. This allocation includes 31.5bn for a sustainable development programme, Rs2.879bn for a poverty alleviation project, Rs0.4bn for reducing stunting among children, Rs250 million for establishing futsal courts.

Foreign investment will be attracted to Vehari, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur industrial estates, where special portions will be developed as Special Economic Zones for the purpose.

A huge sum of Rs154.5bn has been earmarked for special programmes & public-private partnerships as major planned initiatives include Rs125bn Universal Health Insurance Programme, Rs89.5bn for sustainable development programme out of it Rs31.5bn will be for south Punjab, Rs10bn for a road rehabilitation programme, Rs5bn for VGF and land acquisition for various development projects.

An amount of Rs272.6bn has been proposed for the social sectors. Of this Rs174.9bn will go for health & population welfare, Rs56.7bn for education, Rs19.05bn for local government, Rs11.95bn for water supply & sanitation, Rs7.5bn for sports & youth affairs, Rs1.6bn for social welfare and Rs900 million for women development.

Infrastructure development is the second-largest shareholder in the ADP with an allocation of Rs164.265bn. Of this Rs80.773bn will be set aside for roads construction, Rs27.63bn for irrigation, Rs29.5bn for public buildings, Rs21.362bn for urban development and Rs5.0bn for energy generation.

Production sectors have been apportioned a hefty amount of Rs41.405bn. This includes a sum of Rs19.560bn for agriculture, livestock and food departments, Rs12.535bn for industries, commerce, investment & skills development, Rs6.590bn for forestry, wildlife and fisheries, Rs1.5bn for mines & minerals, and Rs1.22bn for tourism development.

Out of the Rs14.820bn earmarked for the services sector, a sum of Rs6.2bn will be for governance & information technology, Rs6.32bn for transport, Rs1.8bn for emergency services (1122), and Rs500 million for labour & human resource development.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2022

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