LAHORE: IMF Resident Representative Esther Perez Ruiz on Thursday visited the finance department and acquired information on various developmental projects, especially the implementation of the government’s Ehsaas Programme, release of funds, tax, revenue collection, transparency etc.
“How are you people implementing the Ehsass programme in your province in a transparent way? How are the cash subsidies being provided to the poor and needy people,” she questioned after she started speaking with the Punjab finance minister-led team of senior officials.
“And how are you people making efforts to ensure transparency in the distribution of subsidy to the poor,” an official privy to the meeting quoted Ms Ruiz as having said.
Responding to various queries by the IMF team headed by Ms Ruiz, minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat explained that indicators for measuring poverty have been set for access to beneficiaries under the Ehsaas Programme while access to cell phones for direct cash transfers is mandatory for eligible individuals in the programme.
“Subsidies are being provided under the federal government’s Ehsas Ration Programme to control inflation and ensure increased purchasing power of the commoners for their food items,” he added.
About tax collection, he said the major component of the provincial revenue is the tax on the provision of services.
In addition, property tax is also a part of the provincial revenue. “We are working with the federal government to increase the government revenue generation. Reforms are also being introduced in public-private partnership projects,” he said.
The minister said the government has also taken initiatives in the field of health, long-term reform policies for mother and child health and control of malnutrition in the province.
The finance secretary briefed the meeting about the strategies for the implementation of [reform] policies.
He said keeping in view the success of the online application e-pay for government collections, the Punjab government is encouraging payments through credit and debit cards.