Punjab spent record amount on development projects: minister

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RAWALPINDI: Refuting Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s claim that Punjab had not spent enough money on development projects, Provincial Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan on Sunday said Rs178 billion were utilised under the Annual Development Programme and Rs42 billion under public-private partnership, the highest in the first two quarters of the fiscal year during the last five years.

Replying to a question during a press conference at the Rawalpindi Press Club on Sunday, Mr Chohan said: “Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry is a respectable minister but sometimes he makes emotional statements and claimed that Punjab had spent only Rs77 billion so far in development works. However, being the information minister and provincial government’s spokesperson I would like to clear the facts that he (Fawad) presented wrong figures of development works.”

He said in Punjab, tax collection rate was 104pc, and 35pc of the total development budget was being spent on south Punjab.

He said the province was performing well by devising public welfare policies and carrying out record legislation in the Punjab Assembly in 18 months. He said health cards were distributed in 60pc of the districts of the province.

The provincial minister said the performance of the Punjab government was excellent and Prime Minister Imran Khan, Punjab cabinet and treasury benches were satisfied with Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar.

He said there would be no change in the provincial government and Sardar Usman Buzdar would continue to serve the province as chief minister for the next three years.

“I once again categorically deny rumours of a change in Punjab as a campaign had been launched against the chief minister. He will complete his term,” Mr Chohan said.

About wheat flour crisis, the minister claimed that there was no crisis in Punjab and the provincial government was striving to ensure availability of wheat flour in the markets.

Terming it a conspiracy against the PTI government, he said the crisis was created to give a bad name to PTI governments in the centre and Punjab but Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar overcame the crisis without wasting time.

“Action had been taken against 376 flour mills in the province, and licences of 15 flour mills and the quota of 170 flour mills were cancelled. The government imposed a fine amounting to Rs95 million on flour mills. District food controllers of Gujranwala and Sialkot and Vehari’s deputy director food had been suspended,” he added.

About high prices of wheat flour in the market, the minister said there were two types of wheat flour available in the market – private mills (Chaki) sold flour at a higher price as they did not buy wheat from the government whereas the flour mills sold wheat flour at official rates.

Replying to a query, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said Kashmir issue was sidelined by the media due to Maulana Fazlur Rahman who had damaged Kashmir issue and diverted attention to his dharna two months ago.

“But even then, Prime Minister Imran Khan did not leave the Kashmir issue unattended and raised it at the national and international forums. Due to his diplomatic efforts China also sought an explanation from India on the situation in Kashmir,” he said.

“The lockdown continues in India-held Kashmir and human rights are being severely violated, which is being protested by the people of Pakistan as well as the world,” he added.

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