ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that providing tangible and concrete relief with specific financial allocations to the people especially those in the lowest income groups should be the topmost priority of his government in the forthcoming budget. The Prime Minister expressed these views while chairing a briefing on the budgetary matters at the Prime Minister’s House on Wednesday.
While explaining government’s priorities for the forthcoming budget, the Prime Minister directed all the concerned involved in the budget making to incorporate objectives which could provide relief to the lowest income groups, boost agriculture and manufacturing growth, help in overcoming energy and water shortages, developing human resource and avoiding wastage of tax payers’ money.
The Prime Minister said that providing relief to the poorest of the poor who are facing back breaking hardship due to high food inflation and shortage of power and other essential goods is the real objective of the elected government. He said that the government is committed to making a sizeable allocation in the budget for direct income support to the poorest and vulnerable groups.
The Prime Minister said that government will soon start rural employment generating projects to generate employment for at least 100 days per family especially in the poor and backward districts. He said that skills development programmes for both rural and urban areas will also be initiated so that employability and productivity can be increased. He said that social protection measures including health care and nutrition support for children especially girls, will also be put in place besides allocating resources for provision of safe drinking water.
The Prime Minister said that government will also provide relief to government employees to compensate for rising inflation especially the low paid employees.The Prime Minister directed that budget should also incorporate both fiscal and development support measures to boost growth in agriculture and manufacturing sectors which would include increasing incentives to enhance profitability, output & productivity in agriculture by suitable adjustment in subsidies and timely support prices. This he said would boost agriculture production, improve income of farming community and eliminate the possibility of food shortage in the country.
The Prime Minister added that fiscal & development support for manufacturing in terms of tax incentives, encouraging industrial clusters, support for technology transfer and facilitation of import of power generating small units are some of the areas to be given priority in the budget. He further added that fiscal & tax incentives for encouraging small medium enterprises (SMEs) should also be including through increased allocation of credit for this sector.
The Prime Minister said that auto industry is the fifth largest revenue earner of the country and steps should be taken to encourage local production of cars and motor cycles. This he said would generate job opportunities and economic activities in the country.
The Prime Minister said that overcoming energy and water shortages are the other areas which the government attaches high priority. He called upon the need to incorporate concrete measures which include construction of small dams in all federating units, provision of incentives for private investment in the power sector and increased allocation for water conservation and management.
The Prime Minister also stressed the need for the development of human resources and tangible measures to ensure their effective utilization. In this regard, he said that this target be met through increased allocation for primary & secondary education, vocational training, concentrating on improving quality and maintaining standards and setting up and reviving employment exchanges for better information on job opportunities and assistance in placement.
The Prime Minister said that stringent measures need to be adopted to avoid wastage and duplication in the use of tax payers’ money through close coordination between the federal & provincial governments in formulation and implementation of their development programmes, by observing transparent & effective monitoring of development projects to get optimum results.
The meeting was informed that over 300,000 temporary jobs will be created in the forthcoming public sector development programme/ projects of the federal government. Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Finance, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Ms. Shehnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Mr. Salman Farooqi, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Secretary Planning Commission, Secretary Finance, Chief Economist and members of the Economic Advisory Council, Mr. Shaukat Tareen, Mr. Bashir Ali Muhammad, Main Tariq Sehgal, Syed Saleem Raza, Mr. Farooq Rehmatullah and Mr Saqib Sherani also attended the meeting.-SANA