PESHAWAR: In a bid to provide shelter to persecuted or homeless women in Mardan, the government had planned to build a shelter for them. But the shelter and other projects at the district level have been facing delays since the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has failed to release funds to kickstart work on these projects.
Nearly four months after the annual budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 was passed, the provincial government has yet to release developmental funds for districts as part of the first quarter payments.
As a result, several development projects of local governments have been delayed.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act 2013 stipulates that the provincial government release funds for district development projects on a quarterly basis to the three tiers of local government (LG) in the province including districts, tehsils, towns and the village, neighbourhood councils.
According to the law, 30 per cent of funds of the provincial Annual Development Programme (ADP) should be allocated for districts. In June, the government had allocated Rs28 billion for districts for the financial year 2017-18 or around 22.2 per cent of the total Rs126 billion allotted for the provincial ADP.
The government was supposed to release some funds, to get work on the project concept-I started on new projects, in the first week of July.
Mardan District Nazim and Local Council Association President Himayatullah Mayar told The Express Tribune that they have so far this year only received tall claims of empowering the local councils from Peshawar rather than any money to start work on development projects in the district.
He said various projects, such as an irrigation project, building labour rooms at certain basic health units in the district and the Darul Amman, have been floated. But delays in releasing funds means these projects have been put on hold, for now.
“The public is asking about the developmental projects but the provincial government is not serious in releasing the [requisite] funds.”
Asked why he thought the government had failed to release funds in time, Mayar alleged that some K-P government ministers were allegedly transferring funds to their respective constituencies to complete as many projects as possible ahead of the upcoming general elections in 2018 on the basis of nepotism.
But the matter of transferring of funds has been under contention in recent months after the K-P government amended the Local Government Act allowing it to dip into funds meant for the district government – redirecting a portion of the district funds into areas which the provincial government deems need it more.
“I do not believe the government would release funds for the first or the second quarter of the ongoing financial year, rather it will release funds only for the third and fourth quarters,” Mayar lamented, as he called out the redirection of funds to other constituencies as unfair.
The K-P Funds Release Policy states that district developmental funds will be released on a quarterly basis to the three tiers of the local government. Mayar said, on the one hand, the provincial government is slashing district funds, and on the other, it is not releasing the meagre sums set for the districts.
K-P Minister for Finance Muzaffar Said and LG Minister Inayatullah Khan was contacted for comments on delays in the release of funds, but he could not be reached.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2017.