As general elections are approaching, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has tasked economic managers with diverting funds to the projects that are nearing completion, a move apparently aimed at highlighting the work of Pakistan Peoples Party government.
The premier gave the directive to the Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission, while chairing a meeting held here on Thursday to review progress on the federal Public Sector Development Programme.
The move indicates ill-planning on the part of economic managers in yet another case, as it was the fifth day of the new financial year and the Planning Commission was asked to review the allocations.
Earlier, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) sought downward revision in the tax target on the first day of the fiscal year.
The economic team was asked to determine the exact amount required to complete the schemes where 70% or more work had already been done, according to an official privy to the development. The Planning Commission was directed to review the possibility of releasing money in one go instead of quarterly installments, said the official.
For the current fiscal year, the government has allocated Rs360 billion for 1,074 schemes. Of these, 70% or more work has been completed on 642 projects, said the official.
Around 70% work has been completed on 278 projects, up to 80% work done on 106 schemes and up to 90% work completed on 110 schemes. Besides these, there are 148 projects where more than 90% work has been done, said the official.
According to another official, there will be little adverse impact on other projects, if the government diverted some funds. He argued that the government has already allocated Rs40 billion for the projects where 80% work has been done. It may require up to Rs10 billion additional financing for their rapid completion.
For the last around one year, the government has been in an election mood as far as allocation of funds for development projects is concerned. In the just concluded fiscal year, it had allocated Rs33 billion for projects which came under the premier’s discretionary powers. However, actual spending stood at Rs40 billion, taking some share out of other projects.
According to sources, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh briefed the premier that against allocation of Rs300 billion, the government actually spent Rs310 billion last year. Interestingly, in the previous years the government used to cut the development budget for creating room for non-development expenses.
According to the Prime Minister’s House, Ashraf asked the Planning Commission to complete ongoing projects which are close to completion and carry maximum social impact. The premier emphasised that projects like Chashma Right Bank Canal (lift irrigation), Kachhi Canal, Greater Thal Canal, Quetta Water Supply, Lyari Expressway, Ratodero-Gwadar Road, Lowari Tunnel and Munda Dam should be given priority because of their enormous impact on agriculture, energy and connectivity.
The finance minister said the major projects which were near completion were Mangla Dam Raising, Gomal Zam Dam, Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, Jinnah Hydropower, Gwadar-Hoshab-Ratodero Road, Lowari Tunnel and creating Balochistan Constabulary.
In order to monitor the ongoing projects, it was decided that the executing agencies would submit a report to the Planning Commission every month regarding progress on the projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ