Development projects: Poor management acts as main bottleneck

One-of-a-kind Planning Commission survey reviews 618 public sector development projects during fiscal 2010.

Shahbaz Rana August 29, 2011


Contrary to general perception of financial scarcity being the main bottleneck in timely completion of development projects, a recent study reveals that lack of managerial capacities was the biggest reason behind delays during financial year 2010.

The review of 618 public sector development projects during financial year 2010 revealed that 34 per cent or 212 projects suffered because of management capacity problems. Inadequate funding was second on the list as it affected 30 per cent or 183 reviewed projects, according to one-of-a-kind study carried out by the Planning Commission.

Delay in civil works was the third major reason that affected 68 projects followed by security and other sector specific issues that delayed 58 projects in 2009-10.

The study on common problems and issues while executing the projects also confesses that Planning Commission is not following the appraisal and approval procedure and was carrying out ‘weak scrutiny’. Due to that accurate economic analysis (of the projects) are not possible, resulting in problems at execution stage and consequently envisaged results are not achieved, the study says.

The Planning Commission is responsible for appraisal and approval of projects coupled with monitoring and evaluation of third party PSDP projects.

The government, particularly the Planning Commission, faced criticism for approving projects under political consideration by compromising economic aspects despite spending of trillions of rupees over the years. The report states the projects were “ill-planned and more importantly there was no evidence of  any major impact of these projects to the public”.

“There seems to be limited planning on post completion maintenance or effective administration of the project for maximising benefits to the people”.

The total project portfolio is over Rs4.1 trillion currently, of which projects worth about Rs3 trillion have been approved but awaiting allocations.

“To understand public service delivery and growth in the country, we need to understand projects, their implementation and finally their delivery to the people of Pakistan,” said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haque. He further said “substantial numbers of projects are completed every year, and now we need to move to the next stage of assessing the value of the projects to the society and economy”.

The report says that implementation and execution of PSDP funded projects had brought relief to the general public at large and positively contributed to the national economy. However, it may not be enough in the backdrop of rapidly growing population and consequent increased demand for provision of social services and infrastructure facilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th,  2011.

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