LAHORE: The Punjab government has not been able to spend a single penny on 1,224 development projects, having an estimated cost of Rs40 billion, across the province during the current financial year.
A report prepared by the Planning and Development Board on the non-completion of the projects in the current financial year shows that 56 projects of Rs10 billion could not be approved. Funds were not released for 489 projects that had an estimated cost of Rs11 billion.
The report revealed that Rs18 billion released for 679 projects in the province could not be utilised during the year.
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During the year, 11 projects of the agriculture department remained incomplete. Their estimated cost was Rs1 billion. The Department of Primary and Secondary Healthcare has 39 unfinished projects of Rs1.2 billion. According to the report, 17 projects of governance improvement worth Rs.1.06 billion remained incomplete along with 86 projects worth Rs950 million of the Local Government Department and nine projects worth Rs830 million of the Industries and Commerce Department.
Eleven projects costing Rs780 million of the Livestock Department and nine projects of Rs430 million of the Social Welfare Department are incomplete. The Human Rights Department has 55 incomplete projects with an estimated cost of Rs430 million, Forests Department six projects of Rs330 million.
Four projects of women development costing Rs320 million and five of Food Department with a budget of Rs300 million remained incomplete.
The projects left incomplete include 14 relayed to emergency services with estimated expenses of Rs270 million.
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The Environment Department could not make any expenses on five projects of Rs210 million.
The funds for Not a single six projects of the Minerals Department worth Rs200 million, 11 projects worth Rs190 million of the Department of Auqaf and Religious Affairs, four projects worth Rs190 million of the Transport Department, six projects worth Rs180 million of the Population Welfare Department and four projects of Information and Culture Department worth Rs80 million were left unutilised.
The Department of Special Education did not spend the allocated funds for eight projects of Rs70 million and Literacy Department two projects with the same allocation.
Meanwhile, terminating the Punjab Growth Strategy 2023, the government has decided to adopt a development vision titled Rise Punjab for next year. A meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik reviewed the Punjab Development Profile and the strategy regarding the Annual Development Programme.
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Sources said the chief secretary urged the departments to continue progress in their fields to ensure proper utilisation of public funds. He also reviewed the "Rise Punjab" comprehensive strategy that will determine the direction of investment in the public sector after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the strategy made for preparing the next Annual Development Programme, the Rise Punjab project will be used to revive the development framework and priorities of the province. This will not only help in dealing with the effects of Covid-19 but will also benefit the common people who are suffering from an economic crisis.
Officials say the Punjab Growth Strategy 2023 can no longer represent the forecast of any relevant model because it was never imagined that the structure of the economy would suffer such a massive shock.
The government is now preparing its strategy for the restructuring of ADP 2020-21 while keeping in view the current situation. The new programme is expected to help launch public development and small enterprise schemes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2020.