ISLAMABAD: The government is learnt to have allocated Rs12 billion in supplementary grant for the cash-strapped Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra).
Erra’s Deputy Chairman Lt-Gen Haroon Aslam said on Tuesday that the authority had to put on hold several projects and lay off 650 employees because of the financial crunch.
Erra had only been allocated Rs1 billion in the annual budget for 2010-11.
Detailing his organisation’s projects, he said that Erra had undertaken work on 13,000 development schemes in addition to 600,000 houses already built by the authority, adding that it had already handed over 6,300 projects.
Currently, Gen Aslam said, 4,400 projects were in various stages of completion, adding that nearly 400 projects were almost 75 per cent complete, while 50 per cent work was completed for 900 other projects.
The release of the grant, he said, will enable the authority to continue work on its projects at a satisfactory pace. He pointed out that the authority had spent Rs17 billion last year.
Maintaining that Erra was the most qualified organisation to undertake reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in flood-hit areas, he said the situation demanded an out of the box solution, adding that focus should be on the use of local material for reconstruction.
He said he had been consulted on the issue at the highest level.
According to Gen Aslam, Erra’s finances were under strict scrutiny and there was no issue of transparency in the utilisation of funds.
Highlighting Erra’s performance, he said that the authority had twice received highly satisfactory ratings from the World Bank. “This makes it clear that transparency is not an issue.”
Deserving people will be re-employed after the funds are made available, he said.
He said floods have caused a loss of around Rs1 billion to Erra as it washed away roads and affected various development projects in Azad Kashmir and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Work on the Rs8.7 billion New Balakot City project would start in the next two months, Gen Aslam said, adding that it will be completed in two phases.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2010.
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