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April 23, 2019

Increase in MPs’ discretionary fund proposed

Top Story

April 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Amid the possibility of entering into IMF arrangement and reduction in overall allocation for development budget, the PTI-led government is considering slashing allocation for development of formerly called Fata, its security enhancement and Prime Minister’s Youth Programmes by over 50 percent through development outlay in the upcoming budget 2019-20.

The government has proposed allocation of just Rs42 billion in the upcoming budget for these special programmes undertaken by the Finance Division in the next budget 2019-20 against the allocated amount of Rs100 billion in the outgoing financial year 2018-19.

For Fata development and its security enhancement, the government had allocated Rs90 billion. Now the proposal is under consideration to slash it to Rs10 to Rs20 billion in the coming budget 2019-20.

However, the government is considering allocating Rs24 billion for controversial discretionary programme for parliamentarians under the title of SDGs programme in the next financial year. Although, the government had earmarked same amount of Rs24 billion for this controversial programme to please parliamentarians but so far no amount could be utilised.

On the other hand, the ministries/divisions and departments had sought Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation of Rs1,500 billion during the priorities committee deliberation against indicative ceiling of the Finance Division to the tune of just Rs675 billion for PSDP allocation in the upcoming budget 2019-20. The allocation of Rs675 billion was kept unchanged compared to the allocated amount for the outgoing fiscal year for PSDP programme.

Now the Ministry of Planning has written to Finance Division to increase the allocation from Rs675 to Rs765 billion for the upcoming PSDP in the next financial year. It is not yet known whether the Centre might provide financial resources to Fata from its own share of National Finance Commission (NFC) award as the request for slashing share of the provinces was already rejected by the representatives of federating units.

The official sources at Finance Division stated that the development budget was under preparation with three different scenarios as if the government allocated Rs675 billion then it would become really hard to include more new schemes into the PSDP list. The Planning Commission had already slapped condition that no unapproved projects would be made part of the PSDP for the next financial year.

In the second scenario the PSDP allocation proposed at Rs700 billion and in third scenario the allocation was proposed to jack up to Rs765 billion as sought by Planning Ministry from the Finance Division. The Finance Division had not replied back to Planning Ministry and it was expected that Prime Minister Imran Khan would take final decision to this effect ahead of upcoming budget. Then the summary would be prepared for the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC), which is expected to be held around May 10 to 15 because the National Economic Council (NEC) would have to be convened around May 20, 2019 if the PTI wanted to present its next budget on May 24.

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