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Rs8 bn allocated for Chitral’s road projects in federal budget

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has allocated an amount of Rs8 billion for the stalled mega road projects in Chitral.

In the outgoing fiscal year, the federal government had allocated Rs6 billion for five mega road infrastructure projects of Chitral in the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2022-23.

According to budgetary documents available with ChitralToday, an amount of Rs5 billion has been set aside in the fiscal year 2023-24 for the widening and improvement of Chitra-Shandur road. 

A federal government project, the widening and improvement of the Chitral-Booni-Mastuj-Shandur Road was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on July 7, 2022.

The NHA contractors had started widening of the 153km road at different points both in Lower and Upper Chitral. However, work at the site was suspended this year due to unavailability of funds, prompting public outcry. 

Moreover, the government has set aside Rs1 billion for the Chitral-Garam Chashma road, a project approved by ECNEC in 2017. For the Ayun-Bumburate road an amount of Rs1.5 billion and for the access roads of Lowari tunnel project (second revised) Rs500 million have been earmarked. 

Golen Gol HPP

The federal government has allocated Rs2.22 billion for Golen Gol hydro power project (HPP) in the fiscal year 2023-24.

The allocation is included in the Rs80,111.463 million for 13 ongoing and one new hydel power projects in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) across the country.

According to the budgetary document released here on Friday, out of the total allocation, the local component stood at Rs. 71,059 million and Rs. 9,052 million foreign aid component.

A sum of Rs58,597 million has been allocated for Dasu Hydropower Project (HPP), Rs4,449.453 for Tarbela 5th extension HPP, Rs4,828 million for Neelum Jhelum HPP, Rs4,210 million for refurbishment and upgradation of generation units of Mangla Power station, Rs2,586 million for Wasak Hydroelectric Power Station, Rs2,226 million for Golen Gol HPP, Rs1045 million for Keyal Khwar HHP, Rs590 million for Tarbela 4th Exensjon HPP and Rs50 million for the generation feasibility of Diamer Basha Dam in the PSDP for FY 2023-24.

Key proposals in Budget 2023-24

  • No increase in duties on import of essential items
  • No new taxes for the upcoming year
  • Exemption of customs duties on import of seeds for sowing to promote growth in the agricultural sector
  • Withdrawal of capping of the fixed duties and taxes on the import of old and used vehicles of Asian Makes above 1300CC
  • Services provided by restaurants including cafes, food (including ice cream), parlours, coffee houses, coffee shops, deras, food huts, eateries, resorts and similar cooked, prepared or ready-to-eat food service outlets etc are proposed to be taxed at 5pc if payment is made through debit or credit cards, mobile wallets or QR scanning
  • Grant of exemption of sales tax on contraceptives and accessories
  • Minimum wage proposed at Rs32,000; wages of government employees from Grades 1-16 and Grades 17-22 to be increased by 35pc and 30pc, respectively
  • Increase in withholding tax rate from 1pc to 5pc on payment to non-residents through debit/credit or prepaid cards
  • Exemption of customs duties on import of shrimps/prawns/juvenile for breeding in commercial fish farms and hatcheries
  • Rs1 billion allocated for health insurance of working journalists.

Projects for flood-hit areas

The minister said the government has started work on rehabilitation and reconstruction projects amounting to Rs578 billion in the flood-affected areas.
He said the country’s economy was badly hit by internal and external challenges during the past one year. During last year people of Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Paktunkhawa were severely affected by the devastating floods.
The damages caused by floods were calculated upto $30 billion whereas the federal and provincial government took serious steps in the aftermath for reviving the impacted populace, he added.
He said according to the United Nations Organisation FAO, the prices of edible items including oil, wheat etc., during 2021 to 2022 were increased by 14.3 per cent.
He said other things which resulted in the increase in inflation were the Russia-Ukraine war, global marker increase in oil and gas prices and rise in interest rate in the European countries. 

NHA projects

Against the allocation of Rs111.25 billion for 111 National Highway Authority (NHA) schemes, an expenditure of Rs99.075 billion is incurred for the completion of ongoing works of various national and regional connectivity road projects by the federal government, APP reported.

According to the budgetary documents, during the year, funds were utilized to gear up the slow-moving and ongoing projects, especially for Gwadar links and regional connectivity, and for those projects, which were near to completion.

Against the allocation of Rs. 100 million for 03 road safety schemes of National Highways and Motorway Police, an expenditure of Rs. 20 million has been incurred for the completion of ongoing works for providing necessary infrastructure on securing the newly built Motorways and National Highways.

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