KP govt failed to initiate any mega projects in province

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Province utilised 41.4 per cent of the development funds during the first three quarters

Despite availability of hefty funds to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, no new mega development projects have been launched in the province.

The PTI planning and development managers could barely utilise 15 per cent of the amount allocated for 842 projects in various sectors, official sources said on Thursday.

According to sources, the budget throw-forward of the government also rose to a staggering Rs 316 billion during the current financial year 2015-16.

The provincial administration even failed to comply with the directives of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, which he issued to the administrative secretaries on March 2, during the mid-year review meeting to ensure the utilisation of 50 per cent of funds allocated for new projects and 55 per cent of the ongoing projects by the end of March.

The sources said that the incumbent chief minister had also directed 100 per cent utilisation of the development fund by the end of June, but nothing had so far been done in that regard.

“Only seven of the 39 departments and sectors could utilise 50 per cent or more of the development budget during the three quarters of the current fiscal,” the sources revealed.

The provincial government has allocated Rs 145 billion for Annual Development Programme (ADP) for financial year 2015-16 in addition to Rs 32.88 billion foreign assistance for ADP projects. The total development outlay of Rs 174.88 billion was allocated for 1,525 projects including 911 ongoing and 614 new projects, the sources added.

However, they said that only a few projects made any headway during the first nine months of the fiscal while a number of projects were still lagging behind with less than 14 per cent utilisation of funds.

An official, who recently served at the Planning and Development Department (P&D) observed that the proverbial bureaucratic lethargy in approving, monitoring and evaluating the projects at the Provincial Planning and Development (P&D) end was the major cause of low utilisation of funds.

The official further said that the low utilisation of development funds in the province has become “real pain in the neck” for the PTI-led coalition government.

He felt that the bureaucracy had failed to overcome its inability to pace the utilisation of funds which in turn could speed up the process of development in the province.

According to a document of the P&D department, the utilisation of funds on 1,553 projects was 41.4 per cent during the first three quarters.

However, the higher overall utilisation figure could only be reached as seven of the departments had utilised above average budgets.

The Forestry Department utilised 70 per cent of the amount on the much-publicised “Billion Tree Tsunami” campaign.

The Agriculture Department spent a sizable amount on distribution of free wheat seeds across the province.

The provincial government has released Rs 88.81 billion of its own ADP budget of Rs 145 billion for 1,553 projects of the 39 departments and sectors.

However, the provincial functionaries could only utilise Rs 58.8 billion (41 per cent of the funds).

According to the document, the province’s throw-forward liability has risen to an alarming figure of Rs 316.036 billion.

Utilisation of funds on individual projects presents an even more dismal picture of the government’s performance.

According to the P&D document, the development authorities in the province could not utilize a single penny on 662 of the new and 842 of the ongoing projects.

The funds utilization on the rest of the projects remained below 14 per cent, the sources added.

The official source further added that the provincial government was supposed to establish the Emergency Rescue Service (Rescue 1122) in districts Kohat, Nowshera, Swabi, Lower Dir and Mansehra and at Rustam and Katlang in Mardan district, but failed to complete any of the projects.

“The utilization was zero per cent on six projects. Only Rs 4 million of the Rs 130 million was spent to initiate establishment of the Rescue 1122 in Nowshera,” the sources added.

This amounted to 3.4 per cent of the amount allocated for the project. Similarly, 1.1 per cent of the project money has been spent on the spadework for setting up the Rescue 1122 at Rustam in Mardan, the sources added.

The official sources said that apart from the brick-and-mortar projects, the incompetence of the provincial bureaucracy was also on display when it was able to complete only two special initiative projects and utilised only 27 per cent of the Rs 8.1 billion allocated to provide subsidised flour and ghee to the poor people in the province.