Over 80 per cent of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) budget for the education and health sectors went unutilised in the previous financial quarter year.
The Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) utilised less than 20 per cent of Public Sector Development Funds (PSDP) in the financial year 2014-2015 so far.
Over the years, CADD’s performance in health and education sectors has also declined.
A review of the budgets for education and health and discussions with CADD officials present a bleak view of ongoing and future development schemes for the city.
The education sector has taken the worst hit during the last five years. Finances have been among the major problems, due to knock-on effects such as delayed payment of salaries for daily wagers and the lack of budgeting for the construction of new colleges.
No progress has been made on the ground on four of the five new projects included in PSDP 2014-2015.
There is no progress on the ground on projects such as construction of 200 computer labs in high schools, establishment and uplift of eight schools and uplift of Islamabad Model School for Boys G-11/2 and Islamabad Model College for Boys G-6/4.
Only the construction of Home Economics College in Sector F-11/1 has seen any progress, with Rs40m released so far.
Meanwhile, a summary to sanction 82 posts for contractual employees including 24 computers teachers has been awaiting Ministry of Finance approval since October 2014.
A ministry official, who is not authorised to talk to the media, said that the main reason for underutilisation of funds was that ministry secretaries were frequently changed.
The situation is similar for the health budget.
In the PSDP 2014-2015, an allocation of Rs200 million was made for the long overdue extension of Polyclinic. CADD has already approved Rs55.3 million for the scheme, but the summary has been pending Cabinet Division approval for the last two months. “The fund will lapse if the summary is not approved,” said an officer privy to the development.
Moreover, the construction of a cardiac surgery facility at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has also been pending for the last 11 years. Part of the building was constructed, but due to poor planning rainwater accumulates in its basement. Despite the approval of Rs219 million for the purchase of new equipment for the facility, a tender has yet to be floated.
Meanwhile, Rs75 million in projects to upgrade the Pims critical care centre and enhancement of other facilities has yet to materialise.
All is not well with the Rs157 million breast cancer screening centre to be established at Pims, for which so far, Rs80 million has been released. “Some of the equipment has been purchased, while for the rest tenders have been floated…further development is expected in March,” said a ministry official. Other pending projects include the replacement of the telephone exchange, a bone marrow transplant centre at PIMS, and a safe blood transfusion services project in ICT areas.
Commenting on the situation, the CADD Secretary Khalid Hanif said that funds for some projects have not been released, while other projects are being expedited to complete them ahead of the next budget. “I am trying my best to utilise as much of the budget as we can,” adding, “For some projects, such as new computer labs in schools, funds have not been released yet.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2015.