Ahead of general elections expected in October, cash-strapped Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed authorities to take key measures in the budget for the welfare of the poor and middle class.
“Despite the economic challenges, special measures should be taken for the protection of the weaker sections of the society,” he said while presiding over a meeting on Monday to finalize measures to provide relief to the poor and middle class of the society.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a major political and economic crisis, struggling with high foreign debt, a weak local currency and dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Inflation rose to 36.4 percent in April. That’s the highest rate in South Asia, up from 35.4 percent in March, according to the country’s statistics bureau.
The 2023-24 budget is expected to be presented in Parliament on June 9, and the government is trying to make it people-friendly ahead of the general elections expected in October.
Sharif said that the available resources should be utilized in the best possible way to provide maximum relief to the public. He ordered a comprehensive scheme to provide direct subsidy to farmers.
The government will help eligible farmers to convert their bore wells to solar power, which will reduce fuel import bill and reduce production cost per acre for farmers, he added.
The Prime Minister said that when the price of petroleum products fell in the international market, the government immediately reduced the price.
He suggested that the impact of the reduction in petroleum prices should be passed on to the common people and the scope of the Benazir Income Support Program should be expanded to ensure inclusion of the needy. Benazir should ensure that no indigent widow is excluded from the income support programme.
He said that deserving students should be equipped with higher education and technical skills. He said that the government is ensuring the establishment of an education endowment fund for this purpose.
Sharif said his government has always prioritized providing education, skills, laptops and jobs to the youth. He added that the government will equip the youth with skills according to international standards and contemporary needs.
He said that the scope of the Prime Minister Youth Loan Scheme will be increased and loans will be provided for businesses on easy terms for the youth.
Sharif also said that exports of the information technology sector will be boosted by facilitating the youth in the IT sector. He said that the youth will be provided with facilities for freelancing, technical education, training and self-employment.
He said that all facilities will be provided for the progress of small and medium enterprises. Federal Ministers Khawaja Asif, Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal, Adviser to Prime Minister Ahad Cheema, Minister of State Dr Musadiq Malik, Special Assistants Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan and concerned officials attended the meeting.
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