During the last nine months, the federal government has released merely the 25% of the funds, allocated for Balochistan – a situation which may adversely affect the development projects in the province.
Due to shortage of funds, it has become impossible for Balochistan to complete the ongoing development projects of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in the current fiscal year.
Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Malik Baloch along with his cabinet members took up the issue with Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal during the meeting in Islamabad.
“The delay in release of funds by federal government will not only affect the ongoing projects but also the projects earmarked for the next fiscal year,” the CM told Iqbal as he discussed in detail the federal policy for releasing funds for the most backward province.
Dr Malik pointed out that the federal government would face more difficulties in the next fiscal year when it failed to finance the on-going projects in Balochistan during the current year.
However, the federal minister assured the CM that Balochistan would be provided with funds on priority basis, adding that the far-flung areas in the province would get electricity through solar system instead of transmission line. “Balochistan will be given complete attention. Plans are underway to develop its infrastructure,” Iqbal said.
Some senior provincial government officials, however, do not believe in the promises of the federal government.
“It had been an established fact that the federal spending on development projects in Balochistan remains below 40% in any fiscal year. And in spite of that an outcry is rarely raised against slashing of development funds of the province, where more than 60% of people are living below the poverty line,” said a provincial government official on condition of anonymity.
In its first fiscal year, the outgoing PPP government had spent merely 26% of the development fund allocated for Balochistan. However, after a protest by the provincial government, the federal government had announced it would compensate the lapsed funds during the next fiscal year – a promise that was never fulfilled.
The commitments – made in the federal budget with regard to allocation of fund for Balochistan – have never been honoured and people have always doubted them. The credibility of the federal budget and the promised federal spending in Balochistan have come to simple zero.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2014.