70 development projects to start in five months

Planning Commission briefs prime minister.


Our Correspondent August 02, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The groundbreaking of roughly 70 projects in the next five months hinges on the timely allocation of funds and the ability of ministries to deliver, according to Planning Commission.

In a briefing regarding the possibility of completing the projects before announcement of next general elections, the Planning Commission told Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf that roughly 170 mega projects can be completed in one year and half of them by December this year provided these bottlenecks are removed. The Commission has outlined about 250 projects, both mega and small, that could be inaugurated within a year.

After assuming charge, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had directed the Planning Commission to prioritise the projects that could be inaugurated before the PPP-led coalition government completes its five-year term.

However, Planning Commission sources said that the existing Rs360 billion total PSDP portfolio is not sufficient to meet the requirements. They added, the Commission cannot divert all funds against the projects where less than 40% work is completed as already allocations were made which were sufficient to pay the salaries of the employees.

There are roughly 1,044 projects having total estimated cost of Rs1.8 trillion in 2012-13 Public Sector Development Programme document. The projects which are near completion are in the sectors of water are 11, power (14), transport and communication (39), physical planning and housing (65), health (10), higher education (33), education (6) and rest are in the others category.

Sources said in the last quarter of the last fiscal year the government delayed billions of rupees payments to contractors to avoid development budget overruns. These payments have shifted to this year’s Rs360 billion budget affecting the allocations of other schemes.

A finance ministry official said that the ministry suggested in the meeting to divert funds from the existing pool instead of seeking additional resources for completion of priority projects. They added the ministry cannot pool funds until the executing agencies were serious enough to take on the task. Furthermore, many of projects were being delayed due to litigation and land disputes.

Meanwhile, according to Prime Minister House, the government has decided to focus its efforts and pool its resources for the expeditious completion of the Kachi Canal project within this year. The premier directed the finance ministry to immediately release Rs6 billion required for the completion of the project.

The meeting also decided to complete Dadu-Khuzdar Transmission line on fast-track basis. It was also decided that Kallat-Quetta-Chaman road be completed before end of this year. The Prime Minister also directed the fast-track completion of Kalat-Rato Dero, Khori-Qubi Saeed Khan section (Kuhzdar-Rato Deo road) and Gawader-Rato Dero road.

The prime minister observed that though the allocation of public sector development funds have been increasing over the years, their impact has been missing since the projects could not be completed in time for one reason or the other leading to cost over-runs and delay, said the PM House.

The premier directed that the approval of the projects should be accorded keeping in view their national and strategic importance. The prime minister also observed that all health related projects should be completed on priority basis.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.

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