Rs96b reserved in next budget for MPs' projects

Sum includes Rs74b that will be utilised under SDGs Achievement Programme

Shahbaz Rana June 03, 2021


The federal government on Wednesday approved another supplementary grant for parliamentarians' schemes, as it plans to spend over Rs96 billion on projects being recommended by lawmakers during its fourth year in power.

The sum of Rs96 billion spending includes the Rs74 billion that will be utilised under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Achievement Programme, which is outside the regular development schemes approval process.

Headed by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved the diversion of Rs456 million for the interior ministry for meeting the requirements of the SDGs Achievement Programme, the finance ministry said.

The amount is over and above Rs24 billion budget that the PTI government had approved for SDGs plan for fiscal year 2020-21 ending on June 30.

The government had also earlier approved supplementary grants for the parliamentarians schemes being executed under the name of the SDGs programme.

However, in the next fiscal year 2021-22, the government has proposed a huge chunk of Rs74 billion for the SDGs programme. This sum is 208% more than this year’s original budget.

An amount of Rs56 billion has been parked under the cabinet division as single line budget. It will be distributed among the projects that the SDGs steering committee will approve on the recommendations of the members of parliament.

Another amount of Rs18 billion has also been allocated as SDGs supplementary funds and is camouflaged in the uplift budget of the planning and development ministry.

In its last year, the PML-N government spent Rs32.6 billion under the PM’s SDGs Achievement Fund.

Both the PML-N and the PTI have used the name of SDGs to push ahead with their political agendas.

The regular process for the approval of projects requires placing the development schemes for the scrutiny of the Planning Commission first, then for the Central Development Working Party and then for the approval of the Executive Committee of National Economic Committee, if the cost of the project is more than Rs10 billion.

However, the current government has greatly comprised this regular project approval process and has been clearing schemes worth billions of rupees, many in violation of the Public Finance Management Act 2019 that requires feasibility and economic rationales for adding a development scheme into the PSDP.

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For instance, 20 road projects were approved in haste on May 27 and are parked under the finance ministry and given an allocation of Rs22 billion for the next fiscal year.

After adding the Rs22 billion, the total budget for schemes that are directly and indirectly recommended by the parliamentarians has increased to Rs96 billion, according to planning ministry officials.

The government has added rehabilitation of Road from Tehsil Taunsa to N-70 (Chappar, Balochistan) worth Rs8.8 billion and allocated Rs1.75 billion under the finance ministry’s budget.

For the construction of a new road in Bahawalpur, a sum of Rs1.2 billion has been reserved in the next fiscal year.

For the upgrading of Kalabagh/Shakardara Road in Mianwali district, a cost of Rs800 million has also been allocated.

A total of Rs290 million has been reserved for the reconstruction of a road in Hafizabad. A sum of Rs1.8 billion has been allocated in next fiscal for the construction of a road in Sahiwal to Samundari.

For dualisation of a road in Muzaffargarh, a total of Rs1 billion has been reserved from the finance ministry’s budget.

The project for the construction of Lahore-Sialkot Motorway link road at a cost of Rs25.4 billion was approved on May 27 but has been given just Rs200 million in the next fiscal year.

For dualisation of the Lilla Interchange Road, a sum of Rs2.7 billion has been allocated. For dualisation of the Mandi Bahauddin City to Sarai Alamgir Canal road, a new project has been added to the PSDP and given a sum of Rs1.5 billion.

The construction of Awaran Road in Panjgur district has also been added to the PSDP with an allocation of Rs2 billion. The road is named after Defence Production Minister Zubaida Jalal.

Before coming into power, Prime Minister Imran Khan was against using the public funds for winning over voters.

On May 19, 11 schemes were approved under the Sindh Development Plan that are largely located in Badin, Ghotki, Sanghar, Thar, Mirpurkhas and Tando Mohammad Khan and were allocated a sum of only Rs810 million – meaning they will keep lingering on for years.

The ECC also approved Rs.1.5 billion for providing food subsidy to the AJK government and Rs5 billion to the interior ministry for the phase III of the Civil Armed Forces project.

Three other technical supplementary grants of Rs1.8 billion, Rs3.3 billion and Rs7.9 billion were approved for the finance division to provide funds to the K-P and Punjab governments for strengthening hospitals and effective response to Covid-19 and other natural calamities.Home vertical sub 2 and Business sub 1

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