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June 17, 2021

No changes can be made in approved PSDP

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives on Tuesday was forced to cancel its meetings for finalising its recommendations on development budget when Secretary Planning plainly informed the committee that it could not bring any changes in the approved Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The Senate Standing Committee was told that the Public Finance Management (PFM) act approved by the parliament did not elaborate on any role of the Senate Panel, so if the members belonging to the Upper House of Parliament wanted any effective role for this forum, they should introduce amendments into the PFM law.

The Senate Standing Committee on Planning held its meeting under the Chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandiwalla here on Tuesday to consider and finalise the recommendations of Members on the Finance (Amendment), Bill, 2021 relating to Public Sector Development Program 2021-22.

Senator Sardar Muhamad Shafiq Tareen raised the matter of inadequate allocation for D I Khan to Zhob and Zhob-Kuchlak projects. He said that these projects won’t even start with these allocations. He also commented that southern Balochistan package was a step to divide Balochistan, as the Pashtun Districts in northern Baluchistan were totally ignored. He also demanded that Fata-Balochistan scholarships should be continued for least five more years. Senator Sardar Tareen also raised the issue of dualization of road from Karachi to Quetta to Chaman. He asked what is the reason that the N-25 Road has been divided in two parts. One is included for government funding while the other is left to public private partnership project. He asked that his road should be prioritised. Replying to the questions raised by Senator Shafiq Tareen, the officials of NHA said that they had demanded Rs198 billion and a grant of Rs113 billion was approved. So we already had a shortfall of 80 billion rupees.

The official of the HEC apprised the committee that there are a total 168 projects out of which 128 are ongoing projects, and 40 are new projects. Some 60 to 70 percent projects are structured and 30 percent are human development projects. Some 40 new projects have been budgeted this year, the total cost of ongoing project is Rs29.736 billion and cost of new projects is Rs12.713 billion. This year the total HEC development budget is Rs42.45 billion.

Some 66 projects have been approved this year out of which 40 projects have been budgeted. Province-wise distribution of the projects is that Balochistan has been allocated 16 projects, KPK given 30 projects, Sindh given 22 and Punjab given 35 projects. These are total 103 projects out of which 76 are ongoing and 27 new projects. In addition to this, AJK has been given seven projects. Federal territories have been given 21 projects. Gilgit Baltistan has been given five projects. Some 32 projects for running scholarship programs have been approved province-wise and shares have been given by the federal government, he further added.

The official from the Ministry of Federal Education and Federal Training apprised the committee of the total 24 ongoing projects, it started from Rs nine billion and for the next year, Rs five billion allocations is present. Senator Nuzhat Sadiq said that due to the pandemic last year, educational programs were aired on television channels for teaching purposes. The committee was told that efforts would be made to improve them.

The meeting was concluded with the directions that the remaining meetings of the committee have been cancelled following a unanimous protest by the chairman and the committee members, terming the annual PSDP budget meetings exercise as untimely, futile, and undermining the recommendatory role of the Senate of the Pakistan.