Punjab seeks Rs115b foreign aid for mega project

Published: June 27, 2016
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Budget exposes rulers’ hollow claims of self-reliance. PHOTO: APP

Budget exposes rulers’ hollow claims of self-reliance. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: Contrary to the ruling PML-N’s claim projecting self-reliance and reducing dependence on foreign assistance, Punjab has sought a mammoth Rs115 billion under foreign project assistance (FPA) in the budget for FY2016-17 to run mega projects — an unprecedented increase of 70% compared to the outgoing fiscal year.

A close study of Punjab’s budget documents reveals that Rs115 billion have been allocated under FPA in the total budget of Rs1.68 trillion out of which Rs550 billion have separately been shown as development expenditure.

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During the outgoing fiscal year, the total allocation under FPA was Rs34 billion. This year’s allocation of Rs115 billion implies a 70% surge for the current financial year.

The Rs34 billion allocation for the outgoing year under FPA was later revised up to Rs73 billion. This shows that the Punjab government is heavily dependent on foreign assistance to run and execute mega projects – including the much-hyped Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project.

Budget documents show that the provincial government has set aside Rs45 billion for the train project under FPA in the new budget. Separately, the Punjab government is seeking Rs10 billion in the budget for FY2016-17 under foreign grants as compared to Rs15 billion during the outgoing financial year.

Interestingly, Punjab has outrivaled all other provinces in FPA allocations. For example, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa seeks Rs36 billion under FPA, Sindh Rs12 billion and Balochistan seeks Rs4 billion under the head.

The Express Tribune tried to contact Punjab’s Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha but she did not take the calls. A spokesman for Punjab’s Finance Department said the allocation of any given amount under FPA is a ‘normal practice’ in every annual budget.

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“Every government does make allocations under FPA keeping in view their requirements, the availability of resources and related factors,” he said, while referring to K-P’s Rs36 billion allocation under FPA in the new budget.

When asked to comment on an unprecedented 70% surge in FPA in Punjab’s budget as against only 8% related increase in the K-P’s budget, the spokesman said: “K-P is not even half the size of Punjab. There is no comparison. Please, do not get into this debate.”

He said Punjab would be signing memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the respective state governments and developmental bodies to get the required funds, including the World Bank, the ADB, the UN, Jica, USAID, etc.

On the other hand, the health sector in Punjab has been given a meager increase of 11% with an allocation of Rs70 billion in the budget as against Rs62 billion in the outgoing budget.

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The budget for education has been increased by only 7.8% with an allocation of Rs64 billion as against Rs54 billion earmarked during the outgoing fiscal year. An amount of just Rs283 million has been allocated for public health in Punjab’s budget for FY2016-17.

The Punjab Finance Department’s spokesman claimed that the provision of free medicine in public sector hospitals was also part of the provincial health budget. “Medicines for basic treatment (not advanced treatment) would be available free of cost at every government hospital. This rule applies across Punjab — including urban, suburban and rural areas in the entire province.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Malik Saab
    Jun 27, 2016 - 4:00AM

    Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa seeks Rs36 billion under FPA while Punjab is seeking 115 Billion. Before starting the Usual Punjab bashing first do the proper maths. Punjab is more than 3 times in terms of population compared to KP. So in terms of Magnitude of the population both provinces are asking for almost the same percentage amount per capita.
    Also Self Reliance does not mean that you are not allowed to seek funding from the foreign lender for some mega-project. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jun 27, 2016 - 4:34AM

    The best way to cripple a country is to burden it with so much debt that it is at the mercy of the giver ……….. those who are burdening the country with this debt are the true enemies of the country.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.
    Jun 27, 2016 - 5:42AM

    “K-P is not even half the size of
    Punjab. There is no comparison.
    Please, do not get into this debate.”

    What about Balochistan? Balochistan is much larger than Punjab (now don’t get into population statistics, for we don’t know the correct census since for the past 17 years). Recommend

  • Sarfaraz A.
    Jun 27, 2016 - 5:53AM

    This is outrageous. This officials of this province have no shame at all for snatching rights of other provinces since 1947, the exact reason why other half of the country left us, but the greediness of these officials do not seem to rest anywhere soon. They have been taking loans in the name of ‘Pakistan’ and then throw the burden equally on the shoulders of all the rest of three provinces to bear,

    Opposition must raise this issue in the parliament – enough of this bullying tactic. Stop the lion’s share for Punjab, as it’s people are flocking to other cities of rest of provinces in hundreds of numbers everyday (especially Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta and Gwadar – turning their indigenous people into minority and creating human resources problems there). Recommend

  • Shameless
    Jun 27, 2016 - 6:46AM

    One can see how corrupt Pakistan has become.

    The Global Fraud Report 2015-16 by risk mitigation consultancy Kroll, with the aid of the Economist Intelligence Unit, found that the perceived prevalence of fraud in India is the third-highest among all countries and regions surveyed across six continents. Only Colombia (83 per cent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (84 per cent) surpass Pakistan.

    ET plz publish this comment & news.

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-among-top-3-regions-in-corruptionlinked-fraud/article8776128.ece?homepage=trueRecommend

  • Reader
    Jun 27, 2016 - 1:34PM

    Shackles of slavery for future generationsRecommend

  • Ali S
    Jun 27, 2016 - 3:46PM

    @Malik Saab:

    But asking such ridiculous amounts of money for fancy concrete projects rather than health or education is a waste and unsustainable.Recommend

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