Agriculture remains an important sector of Punjab’s economy and is considered as a driving force for growth and development as it provides employment to 43.5% of the province’s workforce. During the outgoing fiscal year, Rs20 billion was allocated towards the sector, which included Rs10 billion from the Kisan package.
Meanwhile, the provincial government claims that under the Kisan package, around 106,000 farmers have been sanctioned interest-free loans amounting to Rs11.5 billion till date and 92.5% belong to that category that availed this facility for the very first time from a formal sector. “This package helped increase crop sector growth from -4.97% to 3.03%, and the agriculture Gross Domestic Product climbed from -0.2% to 3.46% in just one year,” said Punjab Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha.
For the next fiscal year, the provincial government will continue paying subsidies on Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and urea seed fertilisers. It will pay Rs6 billion general sales tax on agriculture tube well connections.
For livestock and dairy development sector, the provincial government plans to allocate Rs9.5 billion for the next fiscal year, under which it will execute 25 ongoing and 25 new schemes.
The proposed schemes include projects to promote export surplus and to create market pull, improve supply chain, production, processing, value addition and certification to link with the international markets.
Major initiatives to be undertaken during the upcoming fiscal year are improving productivity and fertility of small and large ruminants, enhancing livestock production and productivity, establishment of university of veterinary and animal sciences in Bahawalpur, livestock and access to market project.
The government, which has managed to complete a couple of energy projects this year under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has allocated Rs9 billion for the energy sector.
The department has launched the Khadime Punjab Ujala programme throughout Punjab and will convert 10,000 schools to solar power for which Rs3 billion have been allocated. The amount will be reimbursed by donor agencies.
Other major targets and initiatives for the fiscal year 2017-18 include completion of renewable energy development sector investment programme, hydel power generation project at Marala Pakpattan and Chianwali to add 20 megawatts (MW) to the national grid, along with the commencement of 135MW Taunsa hydel power project.