ISLAMABAD: The finance ministry’s failure to release funds for the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) will affect at least 4,000 ongoing development projects in areas devastated by the 2005 earthquake.
Erra had sought nearly Rs40 billion but the federal government had allocated Rs10 billion in the fiscal year 2001-11 for completing ongoing schemes and award fresh tenders for over 2,000 projects.
A senior Erra official told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that the finance ministry has so far released just Rs1 billion and the remaining amount may not be released because the funds may be diverted to repair damages caused by floods.
The official said that the meetings with officials of the finance ministry never proved to be fruitful and it has continuously been ignoring Erra regarding the release of funds.
He said that Erra is left with no option but to halt ongoing projects in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir besides relieving a large number of its employees.
More than 300 people, working on Erra projects in collaboration with Nespak, have already been served termination letters, he said.
Unavailability of funds is also delaying the smooth execution of the New Balakot city project.
Erra spokeswoman Shazia Harris stated that Erra realises the massive needs of the flood survivors as well as economic constraints facing the country.
Stressing the need for ensuring timely completion of all development projects to restore the confidence of international donors, she said that she was optimistic that negotiations with the finance ministry would bear fruit, enabling Erra to complete the remaining projects.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.
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