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March 24, 2016

124 projects dropped as funds utilisation remains low in current fiscal

Top Story

March 24, 2016

Officials directed to ensure 55 percent funds utilised by March end

PESHAWAR: With the bureaucracy struggling due to its low capacity to utilise the development funds in time, the provincial government has dropped 124 projects and re-appropriated Rs4.3 billion.

The money saved from the dropped projects is likely to go to the constituencies of the blue-eyed during the last quarter of the current financial year 2015-16.The performance of the provincial bureaucracy during the current financial year is not different from the previous fiscals in terms of the utilisation of development funds.

The bureaucracy in the mid-year review meeting on March 2 that was chaired by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak came up with a number of solutions as a “way forward” to ensure the timely utilisation of development funds, but it could not provide the mechanism to complete any flagship project of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government in time.

The minutes of the mid-year review meeting show that the overall utilisation at the end of the second quarter (July-December) of the current fiscal was around 13 percent in the Finance Department’s documents. In the Planning and Development Department’s documents though, the funds utilization was recorded at 24 percent.

For the third quarter the review meeting could not come up with any clear-cut plan to achieve the targets. Instead, it was agreed that a decision in this respect was still required.The approved minutes of the meeting shared with The News show that the main thrust of the expenditures at the development sector was on the ongoing projects, some of which were launched by the previous ANP-PPP coalition government.

The meeting was informed that the provincial government had allocated Rs100 billion for development projects, but it could spend only Rs22.8 billion forming 22.5 percent of the total development expenditures at the mid of the financial year.

It had allocated Rs42 billion for the districts’ Annual Development Programme (ADP) and had released Rs21.4 billion, but the districts could not utilise a single penny.However, another document of the Finance Department shows that Nowshera, the native district of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak where his brother Liaqat Khattak serves as the district nazim, managed to spend Rs54.609 million.

The provincial government also allocated Rs35 billion foreign projects assistance in the current fiscal and released Rs10 billion of the amount. The amount spent under this head was estimated at Rs7.6 billion forming 28 percent of the foreign projects assistance.

The decision to drop 124 projects was taken in the light of the chief secretary-led review meeting held on December 21 where it was decided that the un-approved projects would be dropped.By dropping 124 projects, the government saved Rs4.3 billion that “may be” re-appropriated to fast-track projects.

However, the amount surrendered by the departments or due to closure of the projects is traditionally re-appropriated towards the end of the financial year, specifically in the month of June, for projects in some constituencies on different political considerations. The re-appropriated funds are hardly utilised appropriately.

The ministers and their concerned secretaries have been directed to identify the slow, sick and unapproved projects so that these too could be dropped from the ADP.The chief minister, according to the minutes, directed that the amount released to the districts would be considered as expenditure as the amount is not lapsable.

The document shows that the districts have been provided Rs15.22 billion out of their ADP of Rs30.27 billion. It comes to 50 percent of the total allocations and utilisation of the ADP by the districts.

The administrative secretaries have been directed to ensure the gigantic task of utilising 50 percent funds of the new projects and 55 percent of the ongoing projects by the end of March and 100 percent utilisation by June 30.