Daily The Business

Punjab pays off Rs56b previous govt owed to contractors 

Hike in Bank of Punjab NPLs due to bad economic conditions

M Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE:The province will be on almost Rs 250 billion budget surpluses if it able to meet its revenue generation targets while the government had paid of Rs 56 billion debt it owed from previous government in shape of contractors’ bills payments.The increase in Bank of Punjab (BoP) Non Performing Loans (NPLs) is due to bad economic conditions while the bank is stable and improving as it has announced profit to the shareholders. 

This was stated by Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht while
addressing an interactive session with Lahore Economic Journalist
Association (LEJA), on Monday.
The minister in answer to this scribes question that financial
position of the province of Punjab and its bank, Bank of Punjab is
stable and improving. The BOP has announced profit to the shareholders
while increase in Non Performing Loans (NPLs) was due to bad economic
conditions. Further, the revenue of the metro bus was increased with
increase in fare by Rs 10 while the transport department was asked to
submit details of increase in fare so that evaluation would be made on
its impact on ridership of metro buses. He said there was no financial
hindrance for Orange Line Metro Train project while it will
operational in ongoing fiscal year. He said fare of OLMT will decide
in accordance with the business plan of the project.

Regarding south Punjab province, the minister said that without two
third of majority in assemblies and senate it could not be done.

The minister said that human resource development of local government
institutions would be focused under forthcoming Provincial Finance
Commission (PFC) while it will not delay the local governments
election. He said the funds were released and approved on justified
demands of the member assemblies. He said that required funds for Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme was approved and released whenever demanded.

To a question, the minister said that working on the World Bank
projects was continued and the objections were removed on which the
Bank had shown reservations. He said the government was not
advertising its development projects and work. But it doesn’t mean the
government is not investing in development and province is not
progressing, he added.

Infact, the minister said that judicious use of development budget was
ensured and province was progressing in a better way on development
front. He said good news from agriculture sector was starred coming
and cotton crop reports were encouraging. The government is
introducing agriculture reforms in the province as reforms are crucial
for the positive change.

Responding to a question, the minister said that first time in the
history South Punjab budget was being utilized there and through
legislation it was ensured that fund would be spent in the region
only.

Finance Secretary said that over Rs 22 billion supplementary grants
were rejected on logical grounds while seven meetings were held for
Resource Mobilization Committee (RMC). He said that resource
mobilization management unit of the Finance Department in completion
phase.

Earlier, on showcasing of Punjab Component of Ease of Doing Business
2020 report, the minister said within just one year of our government,
Pakistan has jumped 28 places in the international DB ranking and was
placed as top reformer in South Asia and 6th in the World. This rise
has been unprecedented in the recent past. This was the top agenda of
the Prime Minister since day one however we should now work on
bringing the number to double digits and also develop a healthy
competition nationally between cities to progress more on indicators”.

The report was launching was organized by planning and development
board. The reform initiatives that were undertaken by this Government
to improve the overall business environment in the province
contributed to the unprecedented increase of 28 points in Pakistan’s
ranking on the Doing Business Index. Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab
(Economic Affairs & P&D) Salman Shah, Chairman P&D Board Habib ur
Rehman Gillani, Secretary P&DB Imran Sikander Baloch, Secretary Board
of Investment Omer Rasul, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce Industry Irfan Sheikh, representatives of federal and provincial departments, media personalities, and private sector also attended the ceremony.

He further added that crucial work on improving business environment
is underway and will bear the intended results for making Punjab a
business friendly province. He congratulated the P&D Board for taking
forward the reform agenda aggressively and working on the improved
ranking.

Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab, Dr Salman Shah said that the
improved rankings were a result of collaboration and coordination
between departments and the commitment of the government to ensure
ease of business for everyone and to encourage investors. He told that
new investments will create new jobs and hence bring prosperity to the
country.

Addressing the participants, Chairman P&D Board said, “as the focal
agency for the Doing Business in Punjab, P&D brings all other
departments and agencies on board and with the supervision provided by
the Chief Secretary and Minister for Finance ensures seamless
execution. He further added that Government is working on the concept
of regulatory guillotine with a view to rationalize, modernize and
automate business regulations.

Secretary, BOI appreciated the efforts of all provincial departments
who worked tirelessly to implement this reforms agenda. He stressed
the need for effective and efficient coordination between the
provincial and federal agencies.

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