Public depts in trouble as Finance Department blocks funds

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LAHORE
Provincial departments are in deep financial trouble as the Punjab Finance Department has stopped funds, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
The departments, including Education, Health, Communication and Works, and Livestock are feeling the heat of financial crunch and have no option but to linger on payments to their contractors and halt all kind of development, sources said.
“Only salaries and pensions of government employees are being paid,” an official of the Finance Department said, adding that the situation was the same across the entire province and could get worst in the days to come.
When private contractors held protests against the Punjab government in May and June for not clearing their payments, they were assured of being paid in the new financial year but nothing was done so far.
Many officials of government departments also showed their concerns over the stoppage of payments, saying that their suppliers had threatened not to accommodate them if their payments were not released.
“We cannot buy medicine and important medical equipment due to the shortage of funds,” an official of the Health Department said, adding that the problem was getting out of control in the current financial.
An official of the Education Department said people were criticising the federal government for not releasing funds for higher education, “but no one is talking about the situation of provincial education department”.
He said the Punjab Text Book Board was also facing problems in getting its cheques cleared.
The provincial government was using the recent floods as excuse for all its problems, the sources said, adding that the fact was that the situation had already been poor.
A senior government official said the Finance Department had instructed all District Account Offices (DAOs) for not releasing any payment unless it was asked to.
Provincial Finance Secretary Tariq Bajwa was in a meeting in Islamabad and was not available for comments.