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Increasing fears of NAB: 43.8 pc of total allocated funds for PSDP utilised

March 28, 2021

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of increasing fears of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the federal government could only utilise Rs 283 billion or 43.8 percent of the total Rs 650 billion allocated funds for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) during the current fiscal year.

Despite the passing of almost nine months (July-March) period in the ongoing fiscal year 2020-21, the PSDP utilisation stood at Rs 286 billion so far out of total allocated funds of Rs 650 billion for the current fiscal year, indicating that only 43.8 percent could be utilised.

There are a few exceptions among ministries/divisions where the utilisation crossed 50 percent mark but the majority of ministries/divisions and attached departments failed to give momentum to the utilisation of development funds.

The top official sources in the Ministry of Planning confirmed to The News that they had so far released 80 percent of funds to ministries/divisions but the pace of utilisation of funds was dismally slow.

There are many reasons but the fear of NAB is among one of them as no bureaucrat wants to sign on a file, where money is involved.

Now the Ministry of Planning is left with no other option but to divert funds towards those where the utilisation of funds are showing satisfactory levels. Another top official said that the government allocated Rs 70 billion funds for combating the Covid-19 pandemic and now the CDWP and ECNEC had started approving these projects.

“It is hoped that the government will release lump sum amount of Rs 60 to 70 billion very soon and utilisation of funds will kick-start without fearing of lapse after the expiry of the current fiscal year,” said the official.

When asked Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Friday, he conceded that the utilisation of funds was quite slow and one of the reasons was fear of NAB. He said that now the PTI got the majority in both Houses of Parliament and NAB law would be amended. He said that they had offered opposition to discuss amendments in NAB whereby bureaucrats and businessmen should be excluded from clutches of NAB. He said that fear of NAB exists for bureaucrats but there were some other reasons of bureaucratic structures that also created stumbling block in the way of smooth utilisation of funds.

Another reason hampering the development funding is the falling axe on utilisation of funds keeping in view fiscal constraints under the $6 billion IMF programme.