The centre and the provincial governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh seemed poles apart on the issue of allocation of funds for the development schemes located in these two provinces, as the stakeholders could not resolve their differences.
Meetings are going on for the last three days in the Planning Commission with the representatives of the federating units over allocation of funds, officials said.
The representatives of the centre and the provinces are also arguing over adjusting projects of the provincial governments in the federally financed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), according to the officials.
Body formed to resolve issue
The secretary level meetings were held following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s directives to review all the projects that have been added in the PSDP but the provinces had their reservations. While chairing a meeting of National Economic Council early last month, the premier had constituted a committee under Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal along with provincial chief ministers as members to resolve issues related to development projects.
The committee has been directed to complete the exercise by end of July and submit a report to the prime minister.
After continued differences, the matter will now go to the main committee for a decision, which consists of a federal minister and four provincial chief ministers, officials said.
Conflict of interest
They added the provincial governments of the K-P and Sindh where the PML-N was not in power were complaining about the discriminatory treatment meted out to them by the Planning Commission (PC).
The PC was not ready to accept the projects proposed by these governments to add in the PSDP.
“We have told all the provinces that no new project will be added in the PSDP at the cost of ongoing projects,” said Asif Sheikh, spokesman for the Planning Commission. He, however, said that the PC asked the provinces that while remaining within the allocations the provinces can suggest to allocate more resources to any specific project by withdrawing allocation against the province’s own project.
Govt may cut PSDP funds
For the current fiscal year, the federal government has proposed Rs540 billion under the PSDP amid concerns that the government may not fully fund the PSDP due to any shortfall in tax revenues. There are 1,129 schemes in the PSDP 2013-14 and Sindh and K-P want that some of these should be withdrawn to adjust the projects that are on the priority list of the provincial governments.
One of the reasons for not accepting the demands of these two provinces was that some of the PC officials were not ready to drop the schemes, which had been added in the PSDP by the previous government, said the sources.
Since the new government did not have time to scrutinise these projects before the announcement of the budget, the government had constituted the committee. But it seems that the loyalties of the PC officials were creating hurdles.
No funds for devolved subjects
Instead of including their projects in the PSDP, the PC has told Sindh and K-P that the centre would no more finance projects which fall under the devolved subjects like health, education, sports and population, the officials added.
Spokesman for the PC Asif Sheikh said the commission would continue to finance only those devolved projects where the federal government gave commitment at the forum of Council of Common Interests.
However, it is yet to be seen whether the PC would finance Narowal Sports Complex, which again falls under the category of devolved schemes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.