NEC directs priority financial allocations for merged, backward districts

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ISLAMABAD: The National Economic Council (NEC) on Monday directed that the development targets for all new merged and backward districts should be met on priority basis with appropriate financial allocations in the next budget.

The directives were issued during a meeting of National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister (PM) Anwaarul Haq Kakar.

Federal ministers Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Sami Saeed, Shahid Ashraf Tarar, Chief Ministers Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice (retd) Syed Arshad Hussain Shah, Sardar Ali Mardan Domki and high level officials attended the meeting.

The meeting was told that in the next financial year, instead of including provincial projects in the national development budget, only projects of newly merged border districts of erstwhile FATA and 20 backward districts would be included in the federal development budget.

The proper financial allocations for these areas would ensure provision of jobs to the people and economic progress, it was stressed.

The interim prime minister directed that the standard for compiling list of backward districts should be reviewed so that inclusion of all such areas should be ensured.

Speaking during the meeting, PM Kakar said tax money belonged to the people and the focus of all development projects should be welfare and well being of the people.

He urged that work on the national level development projects should be speeded up and their completion in the stipulated time should be ensured.

He expressed satisfaction that the caretaker government achieved substantial success in securing development targets in its short tenure.

The prime minister said despite immense economic challenges, national progress could only be ensured by completing public welfare projects on priority basis.

The National Economic Council comprising the federation and provinces was the highest constitutional body for economic decision making, he said adding the federal government gave vital importance to consultation with provinces while taking decisions about the development projects.

In the development budget, the council decided that special importance should be given to the progress of basic communication infrastructure, hydel projects, water reservoirs, industry, information technology and the development of human resources particularly youth.

The overall economic situation of the country was reviewed in detail during the meeting.

While reviewing the six point agenda of the meeting, priorities and guiding principles for the national development budget 2024-25 were presented for approval.

The meeting was told that according to the new guiding principles, the development projects of national importance which were 80 percent complete, would get priority allocation in the budget.

While for new projects of national significance, only ten percent amount would be allocated.

The NEC directed that while including new projects in the development budget, it should be determined that only projects of solid developmental value were chosen.

The meeting also reviewed the pace of the current development projects under the Public Sector Development Programme (2023-24).

In this regard, the recommendations of the Apex Committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council were presented.

While approving the recommendations of the apex committee, the prime minister directed that Youth Development Programme especially Skill Development Programme and Youth Endowment Scholarship for Talented Students should be continued robustly in the federal development budget and funding for them should be ensured.

The council was informed about the priorities of the 13th five year development programme. The meeting was told that under the five year programme, the optimum focus would be on development of different areas of the country, environment, climate change, tourism, agriculture, industry, energy, governance, foreign investment, incentives to small and medium enterprises, improvement in governance and steps for use of technology in government affairs and service delivery.

While giving assent for renewed focus on these areas, the council directed that the draft for the five year programme should be finalized and presented for approval.

The report of the sub-committee of the National Economic Council on Sustainable Development Goals was presented. It was stressed that climate finance should be focused as Pakistan was among those countries which were most affected by climate change.

The council also directed that a multiple indicator cluster survey should be held in collaboration with the provinces for a true depiction of the projects of public welfare and economic progress in the country.

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