PESHAWAR: The PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government on Friday presented a Rs923 billion “tax free” budget for the upcoming financial year with a “record” Rs124 billion set aside for the health sector. Presenting the budget in the KP Assembly, finance minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said that the total outlay of the budget was pitched at Rs923 billion — including Rs739.1 billon for settled districts and Rs183.9 billion for merged districts.Speaking about the on-going expenditure, the finance minister said that Rs605.2 billion were allocated for the expenditure in total — out of which Rs517.2 billion were allocated for settled districts and Rs88 billion were earmarked for merged districts. For development expenditure, a sum of Rs317.8 billion has been allocated, which includes Rs221.9 billion for settled districts and Rs95.9 billion for merged tribal districts. “A record Rs124 billion was allocated for health sector — including settled and merged districts, both,” the provincial minister said, adding that the budget for settled districts have increased from Rs87 billion of outgoing fiscal to Rs105.9 billion for upcoming fiscal year.For development budget in health sector, the minister maintained that a total of Rs24.4 billion was allocated — including Rs13.8 billion for settled district and Rs10.6 billion for merged tribal districts. “Government will focus on ensuring adequate stock of equipment, medicines and increase the strength of doctors in public sector hospitals, Jhagra underscored. Additionally, Sehat Insaf cards will also be provided to every family of the province for which Rs10 billion has been allocated. The finance minister said that Rs36 billion were earmarked for Medical Teaching Institutes (MTI) hospitals, including Rs26 billion for their current budget and Rs4 billion for completion of key projects. Moreover, Rs6 billion have been earmarked as “special demand funds” for improving the healthcare system in major hospitals of the province. “Shortages of infrastructure and equipment in basic health units will be overcome and for this purpose, Rs13 billion project would be launched in collaboration with World Bank,” the minister added. For procurement of medicines for healthcare facilities and acquiring services of private sectors, the budget has been increased from Rs2.5 billion to Rs4 billion, the minister said, adding that Rs1 billion is marked for waste management of hospitals. The minister also highlighted that Rs24 billion has been allocated for an emergency coronavirus relief fund in order to combat the deadly virus. Of this, Rs15 billion would be utilised for settled districts and Rs9 billion for merged areas.Earlier a special meeting of the provincial cabinet was held here on Friday with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan in the chair. The meeting formally approved budget proposals for financial year 2020-21
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