Government using development projects for political gains: NA committee


ISLAMABAD: As the government was releasing funds for development projects despite huge budget deficit and financial constraints, the members of National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Planning on Wednesday criticised the government of distributing projects and allocating funds on political consideration. The members blamed the government of using development projects for political gains possibly with the aim that it would give leverage to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the upcoming general elections.

During the meeting of the committee on Wednesday, the committee members, who mostly belonged to the opposition parties, read out the special federal development budget for the current fiscal year and criticised the incumbent government.

Later, even PML-N member and NA Standing Committee on Planning Chairman Abdul Majeed Khan Khanankhail also admitted the unjustified distribution of development funds, saying that a policy decision was needed over development projects. He also said that bureaucratic hurdles and delays in the completion of the projects were leading to escalation in the cost of the projects.

Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Dr Nafisa Shah said that almost all development projects of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) were in Central Punjab and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and SNGPL was not even taking up the project to supply gas for an industrial estate in Khairpur in Sindh, which was also one of the largest gas producing districts of the country.

Criticising the ruling party, she said that several projects with unclear titles amounted to around Rs 40 billion. Projects like building local roads mainly in Punjab should not be part of the federal agenda, she added.

“Such politically motivated and micro level projects do not serve the purpose of planning and development,” she said. “Unfortunately this incorrect approach has been adopted by all provincial governments,” she added.

On the other hand, pointing towards several projects, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Sheikh Salahuddin said that projects had been dumped and there was no forum to seek their progress reports.

“The Karachi package and the Hyderabad package were announced when we voted for the prime minister and we provided the list of projects based on their priority but nobody knows what happened to them,” he said.

He pointed out that the K-4 water supply project, which was to be completed at the cost of Rs 25 billion by mid of 2017, was in doldrums.

“Now its cost has been raised to Rs 40 billion with Rs 29 billion already spent on only 15 percent of the work,” he said.

Responding to his query, the officials of the planning commission said that funds of the federal component had already been transferred but the execution authority for the said project was the Sindh government.

Junaid Akbar also joined in and highlighted his own experience. He said that despite arranging funding from the KP government, his project was turned down at the SNGPL head office in Lahore.

A SNGPL official said that schemes related to the 18,000-kilometre pipeline had been approved for the current fiscal year but the company had been able to execute the work on only 9,500 kilometres of the pipeline due to financial constraints along with other issues and the remaining target could not be completed in the remaining period of the current fiscal.