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Tribal region uplift funds diverted for security enhancement


ISLAMABAD: At the fag end of current fiscal year, the government has increased the funding for security enhancement by about 67 per cent, to Rs53 billion, by diverting a major portion of funds allocated for development schemes meant for temporary displaced persons (TDPs) of tribal region.

The government has also increased by 25pc, to Rs30bn, the allocations for parliamentarians’ schemes under the head of Susta­inable Development Goals (SDGs) by diverting Rs6bn from other schemes.

The budget approved by parliament in June last year had allocated Rs32.5bn each for special development programme for TDPs and security enhancement. As of April 3, both the allocations were kept uncha­nged in the Planning Comm­ission papers even though an amount of Rs38.5bn had already been disbursed for security enhancement, according to data released by the planning and development ministry.

On Friday, the Planning Commission notified rev­is­ed allocations for the Pub­lic Sector Development Pro­gramme (PSDP) 2019-20, increasing the allocations for security enhancement to Rs53bn from Rs32.5bn.

Simultaneously, it said the allocations for development schemes for TDPs had been brought down from Rs32.5bn, as approved by parliament, to Rs17bn, a decline of 48pc. The commission said the total authorised disbursements for TDPs had amounted to just Rs5bn as of April 10.

An official said the diversion of funds from allocations for TDPs to those meant for security enhancement was made with the approval of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet through supplementary technical grants.

He said the Planning Commission had authorised a lump sum disbursement of about Rs27bn within the first 45 days of the fiscal year for security enhancement while the remaining Rs11bn was to be disbursed in two subsequent instalments.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry notified extension in the cut-off date for release of funds for PSDP to May 25 from May 15 in view of the prevailing situation due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Also, it extended the deadline for surrender of surplus or unutilised funds by various ministries and agencies to May 15 from April 30.

The commission’s data showed the total development spending, as of April 10, of Rs471bn, which accounted for 67.2pc of the Rs701bn allocation for the year. During the same period, the development disbursements stood at 70pc, or Rs470bn, of the Rs675bn annual allocation.

As part of the accelerated disbursements, the government has so far released Rs22bn for the development schemes of parliamentarians under the account of SDGs against an allocation of Rs24bn for the full year, showing a 92pc spending in about nine months. The allocation for SDGs has now been increased to Rs30bn.

The government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has lately come under criticism from its parliamentarians over poor performance in terms of development schemes in their constituencies.

Just Rs5bn has so far been spent under the federal government programme for the TDPs, accounting for only 15.4pc of the total allocation of Rs32.5bn. Likewise, only Rs1.5bn has been spent on the PM’s Youth and Hunarmand Programme against an allocation of Rs10bn, which is about 15pc of the total. The allocations for this programme have been cut by half to Rs5bn.

Similarly, only Rs9.6bn or 40pc of the funds have been spent on the development of newly merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against a total allocation of Rs24bn.

On top of that, about Rs23bn has so far been spent on the 10-year development plan for the merged areas against a budgetary allocation of Rs48bn. More significantly, no funds have been authorised for disbursement against the Rs2bn allocation for Clean Green Pakistan Movement — a priority project of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

On the other hand, the Planning Commission has authorised release of about Rs145bn to the National Highway Authority, which accounts for Rs91pc of the annual allocation of Rs159bn. In contrast, Rs14.5bn (34pc) has been given to the power sector against its allocation of Rs42.5bn for development schemes.

In little more than nine months of the year, the development budget has received a robust support from inflows from development lenders for project financing as foreign exchange component (FEC). The government disbursed about Rs96bn FEC as of February against an annual target of Rs127bn.

For speedy disbursements, this fiscal year the government shortened the funds release process by making available 50pc of the total annual allocations to the development projects in the first half of the year. Under the previous arrangement, 40pc funds were provided to the PSDP projects during the first six months.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2020


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