PESHAWAR: The provincial government has allocated Rs1.3 billion to address the financial challenges of public universities in financial year 2020-21.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra in his budget speech said that an additional amount of Rs500 million would be given to Pak-Austria Fachashule Institute Haripur.
Jhagra said that Rs110.6 million would be spent on the Swat University of Engineering and Technology while Rs1.3 billion would be utilised for construction of 74 colleges.
The provincial government has also allocated funds in the fiscal year budget 2020-21 for provision of tablets to school teachers for online education and classes.
The finance minister announced this in the budget speech. He said decision was taken in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, adding that cash amount would be provided to teachers for purchase of tablets.
Water supply schemes
The finance minister further informed that a hefty amount of Rs830 million has been allocated for projects related to clean drinking water supply across the province.
Around Rs1 billion would be spent on Jabba Dam in Khyber district while Rs900 million has been allocated for revamping irrigation system in the province, he added.
The minister said Rs700 million would be spent on construction of water reservoirs in newly merged districts while Rs640 million would be spent on provision of clean drinking water to the people of merged areas.
In Mansehra, he said, a special project under Gravity Flow Water Supply Scheme would be started to provide sufficient amount of drinking water to areas in Hazara division.
Besides, he said, an amount of Rs200 million has been allocated for solarisation of an overhead water scheme and gravity water supply schemes.
In Gadoon area of Swabi, the construction of Atla Dam would be carried out for provision of clean drinking water. The minister informed that Rs210 million has been allocated for purification and supply of clean water to Kohat from Indus River.
He said Rs510 million had been allocated for solarisation of water projects while Rs500 million would be spent on construction of small dams in the province.
Urban areas uplift
The provincial government has allocated Rs5 billion for the uplift of urban areas during the financial year 2020-21.
The finance minister further said that with the help of the European Union an amount of Rs3.9 billion would be utilised in the development of infrastructure and municipal services in selected districts.
Jhagra added that northern section of Warsak Raod to Nasir Bagh would be constructed with Rs1.8 billion funds and Rs550 million would be spent to change provincial metropolis under Peshawar Development Programme.
The minister said that Rs300 million would be spent on the rehabilitation of rural roads. Landfill sites would be constructed in Manshera,
Chitral, Upper Dir, and Swat and slaughterhouses, vegetable and fruit markets would be established in selected tehsils of K-P.
The provincial minister said that schools would be revamped, 300 new schools would be constructed and 534 are being upgraded.
In order to meet the demand of teachers as many as 21,000 new inductions would be made while 30,000 additional assistant education district officers (AEDOs) would also be appointed to improve the standard of schools and quality of education.
Jhagra said the provincial government would launch a literacy campaign in more than 13,000 schools to improve the enrollment process.
Rs2.915b allocated for sports, tourism
The provincial government has allocated Rs2.915 billion for sports, tourism, culture, archeology and youth affairs in the 2020-21 annual budget.
Out of the total, sports would get Rs1.58 billion. The amount has been earmarked for 85 projects of these departments in which 68 ongoing schemes and 17 new schemes including Rs184.083 million for 16 projects of archeology, Rs15 million for two projects of culture, Rs1.581 billion for 27 ongoing projects of sports, Rs0.7 billion for 21 ongoing projects of tourism and Rs7.8 billion for youth affairs.
K-P Sports Director General Asfandyar Khan Khattak while speaking to The Express Tribuned lauded the provincial government for not dropping a single project in the 17 new schemes of sports proposed by the sports directorate.
Khattak said that despite great financial hardships due to the pandemic situation, K-P CM Mahmood Khan fulfilled his promises by including new a-class category sports stadiums in Tank, Kalam, Lakki Marwat, Chitral and Peshawar districts. The government has allocated Rs500 million for upgrading the Hayatabad Sports Complex.
Another silent feature of the sports budget is allocation of Rs0.83 billion for upgrading existing sports facilities across the province.
Foreign tours, purchase of vehicles banned
Govt expects to save up to Rs10b under its austerity measures during fiscal year 2020-21
The provincial government has placed a ban on purchase of new vehicles of 1,600cc and above, foreign trainings, tours and medical treatment of government officials under its austerity measures for financial year 2020-21.
This decision was taken during a meeting of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Cabinet on Friday. K-P CM Mahmood Khan presided over the meeting.
The meeting formally approved budget proposals for financial year 2020-21.
The cabinet approved proposed austerity measures to overcome the issue of financial constraints being faced by the government due to the prevailing coronavirus situation.
The austerity measures would expectedly save up to Rs10 billion to the provincial exchequers during the next financial year.
The meeting organizing official workshops and seminars in expensive hotels, launching projects involving purchase of new vehicles and creation of new vacancies without the prior approval of the Finance Department, expenditure against the expected supplementary grants, cuts on non-salary components of current budget and ban on new hiring without obtaining no objection certificate from surplus pool.
The meeting was informed that ban on new hiring would not apply to recruitments against the newly created positions for newly merged districts.
All the autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies would also be bound to adopt these austerity measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2020.