The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government failed to achieve its provincial receipts target for the fiscal year 2015-16 even as government representatives blame Islamabad for its financial constraints.
According to the finance department’s figures, the government could only generate Rs10.9 billion—20% of the Rs54.4 billion estimated for the current year—in the first six months. Not a single department achieved its targets set for the first half of the fiscal year. The official documents reveal the government proposed a target of Rs27.2 billion for the first six months of the year but only Rs10.9 billion could be generated, creating a shortfall of Rs16.3 billion.
Officials close to the budget making process paint a depressing picture for the next six months in terms of provincial receipts. “The figures for the next six months will be the same,” an official, requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune. “Some of the targets were not realistic and others were inflated,” he added.
A major portion was estimated to be generated by the provincial housing department—Rs14 billion—and the forest department—Rs7.8 billion—but they could not be realised. The forest department generated Rs0.09 billion in the first half of the year and housing department failed at an equal pace.
An official of the finance department said the housing department’s receipts were the royalty of model towns in Hangu and Peshawar but the department failed to complete the schemes. Ultimately no receipts could be obtained.
Another official, also requesting anonymity, said initially the government was setting Rs30 billion as the target for housing department but the department resisted and the target was dropped to Rs14 billion. “The department objected in writing over the unrealistic target but not much attention was paid,” he said.
The excise and taxation department also failed to realise its target of Rs18.1 billion as only Rs4.4 billion or 24% could be achieved from taxes including property and wealth, motor vehicle, tobacco development cess, sales tax on services, professional and trading tax and infrastructure cess.
Similarly the mines and mineral development department also managed to achieve only 24% of its set target of Rs1.4 billion.
According to insiders, the government is in a severe financial crisis and is looking everywhere for money to meet its development and operational expenditures. Due to the current fiscal crunch, the finance department has stopped releases [of funds] for development projects.
This issue was raised by the opposition in the ongoing session of the provincial assembly where members said hindrances in release of development funds was negatively affecting schemes in their constituencies. However, Minister for Finance Muzaffar Said refuted reports that stated funds had been withheld.
Last month the province settled its long-standing net hydel profit (NHP) arrears issue with the federal government. The latter agreed to pay Rs70 billion to K-P in NHP arrears in instalments with the first instalment of Rs25billion to be paid in the current fiscal year. However, the amount is yet to be paid.
Said admitted the government was stressed about getting its share from the federal government but its own departments were also struggling to achieve their targets, making the provincial government’s efforts in vain.
The finance minister refuted claims the receipt figures had been overestimated. “We set targets on mutual consent and it is the responsibility of every department to achieve them.”
He added on the completion of the fiscal year, departments will be asked about their targets and action will be taken against those who failed to do so.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2016.
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