New Pak budget promises 1m jobs

Agence France Presse

Karachi, June 9:

Pakistan hopes that a billion-dollar boost to the housing and infrastructure sectors will create one million new jobs for its impoverished people as it is set to unveil its forthcoming budget.

Economic planners said the 2004-05 budget, to be announced in parliament this Saturday, will allocate almost half of a generous new development spending package to housing and infrastructure.

"We plan to allocate an unprecedented Rs 202 billion Pakistani Currency (PI) (around $3.5 billion) for the development budget next year, which is targeted to generate 1.07 million jobs," national economic advisor Ashfaq Hasan Khan said, adding that Rs 87 billion PC are earmarked for housing and infrastructure projects. "Our focus is housing and other infrastructure projects as they create all manner of jobs from engineers to masons, artisans and labourers," Khan said.

Unemployment runs as high as 9.9 per cent in urban areas of, up from eight per cent in 1999, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan. Nationwide it was calculated at 7.8 per cent, up from 5.9 per cent in 1998. Another Rs 33.4 billion PC in the coming budget is earmarked for education and health. Though this makes up less than one per cent of GDP, according to an economics daily Business Recorder, it marks a 12 per cent more than last year.