Imran Khan directed Punjab govt to ensure spending on development schemes

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LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government to ensure maximum spending on development schemes and engage a third party to monitor quality.

The prime minister issued the direction in a virtual meeting with the Punjab’s political leadership and bureaucracy on Monday. Expected to pay a one-day visit to Lahore on Monday, the PM changed his schedule due to bad weather.

The meeting discussed development portfolio of Punjab; protection and restoration of shrines and monsoon tree plantation. Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht joined the sitting from Islamabad.

Directing special focus on district development packages, the prime minister made it clear that all district and departmental heads would be responsible for the timely completion of development works. He directed development of playgrounds in every district to provide an ample opportunity to the youth for healthy outdoor activities.

Mr Khan also directed the Punjab government that the universal health care system’s benefits must reach the common man in the province.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar told the prime minister the Punjab government had allocated 66 per cent enhanced budget for the development projects during the current 2021-22 fiscal. “Punjab plans to spend at least Rs530 billion out of Rs560 billion development budget during the current financial year,” he said.

In the outgoing financial year 2020-21, the chief minister stated that Punjab spent 97 per cent of the allocated development budget on 5,889 schemes, which was a record spending in the past one decade.

Bakht told the meeting that Punjab had developed implementation strategy of the development schemes and approvals would be given at the levels of districts, departments and Central Development Working Party (CDWP).

The Punjab Planning and Development Board secretary told the meeting that this year budget targets had been finalised keeping in view the Punjab growth strategy 2023. “Punjab will be focusing on economic development, comprehensive and uniform development, agriculture development, human development, durable development targets, districts’ development package, environment protection and public-private partnership,” the board secretary stated.

The secretary said Punjab would be executing 7,116 development schemes, including 90 per cent development schemes with Rs560 billion development budget during the current financial year. The secretary also briefed the prime minister about the allocation of budget for education, health, district development package, agriculture, social protection, industry and IT sector. The secretary stated that the development budget would help create jobs for some 350,000 people.

SHRINES: Chairing another meeting on the protection and rehabilitation of shrines, the prime minister said shrines across the country were a historical asset and needed to be protected and restored. He stressed that the shrines should also projected at the global level for the promotion of religious tourism.

The prime minister directed that a comprehensive plan should be developed to effectively use land around shrines for hospitals and educational institutions in Punjab.

Punjab Auqaf Minister Pir Syed Saeedul Hassan briefed the prime minister about historical and religious sites as well as restoration plan for Data Gunj Bakhsh Ali Jajveri shrine and Badshahi Masjid.

The prime minister was told that a plan had been finalised to develop infrastructure around the Darbar, enhance facilities for pilgrims as well as offer religious tourism and religious education. The plan envisaged transforming Data Gunj Bakhsh shrine into a welfare centre where the needy would be provided meals and lodging facilities.

TREE PLANTATION: Chairing another meeting with the Punjab government, the prime minister said tree plantation was extremely important to protect environment, which was on PTI government’s top agenda.

Lauding the Billion Tree Tsunami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Khan said Pakistan’s efforts to protect environment had been acknowledged at the international level.

The prime minister directed the Punjab government to immediately finalise tree plantation plan at divisional and district level.

The prime minister asked the Punjab government to involve Tiger Force, students, civil society as well as public departments and private organizations.

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