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The Punjab government has increased the yearly budget for Local Government and Community Development's ongoing and new schemes for the fiscal year 2019-20 by allocating Rs6.3 billion, an increase of 35.92 percent as compared to the previous budget. According to the Punjab Budget 2019-20 documents released on Friday, the Punjab government also earmarked Rs77.6 billion for non-development expenditures and thus the local government department will receive Rs83.9 billion.

On the on-going schemes, the government will spend Rs3.548 billion, including Rs1 billion from foreign donors. For new schemes, it has allocated Rs3.998 billion, which include Rs1.4 from foreign donors. For public-private-partnership projects, Rs14 million has been earmarked.

The government is "aiming to ensure effective and efficient delivery of municipal services to the masses at the local level". The document states that the government intends to provide basic infrastructure at local level, clean environment through improved solid waste management services, sanitation and sewage facilities, rural development and strengthen the local governments by improving the financial and institutional capacity for effective and efficient delivery of municipal services.

Thus, Rs140 million was earmarked for Punjab Cities Project for 16 cities of the province to improve governance and realize their economic potential. It is a World Bank-funded project (amounting US$236 million) for integrated development in areas of solid waste, sewerage, water supply, urban roads, open public spaces and street lights in the 16 Municipal Committees of Punjab. Under the Programme 16 Municipal Committees (Jhelum, Vehari, Daska, Wazirabad, Kamoki, Murdiky, Hafizabad, Gojra, Burewala, Jarranwala, Jhang, Kot Addu, Okara, Kamalia, Bahawalnagar, Khanewal) will be provided US$180 million performance based grants. Mechanism of performance based grants will be replicated in other municipalities after successful experience.

Moreover, Rs100 million has been allocated for provision of landfill site for municipal solid waste. Also, to extend the scope of Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Programme (PICIIP), an ongoing scheme, to D G Khan and other cities of Punjab, the government allocated Rs1,450 million. The scheme was launched by the previous government to develop improved integrated urban planning and municipal infrastructure of urban centres.

The government is intending to launch a project in selected local governments for empowering citizens by linking property tax collection to delivery of local service and for this purpose Rs50 million has been allocated. In the next fiscal year, the Punjab government has announced to initiate Special Development Package of Rs559 million for provision of basic infrastructure facilities in deprived areas of D G Khan. Moreover, the department plans to launch Shehr-e-Khamoshan Model Graveyard at a cost of Rs270 million in Muridkay, Samundari Faisalabad.

In the next fiscal year, the government plans to expand the scope of Punjab Cities Governance Improvement Project (PCGIP) to other municipalities at a cost of Rs200 million. This project was launched to reform governance. Moreover, Rs200 million has been earmarked for waste-to-compost projects that will be piloted to develop a business model from the solid waste.

On PPP mode, the government also intends to start waste-to-energy projects for cost efficient solid waste management and set up model cattle markets at Kunjah Gujrat, Ghakhar Gujranwala, Khushab and D G Khan. For energy conservation of urban municipalities, the government intends to carry energy audit of local governments with an amount of Rs500 million and moreover, Third Party Validation (TPV) mechanism for local governments projects will be evolved with an amount of Rs50 million.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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