Minister admits to slashing of CPEC funds


–Planning minister says Rs24bn were diverted to uplift projects from several heads, including CPEC

ISLAMABAD: Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiyar on Friday admitted to partial cutbacks in projects related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as reports had emerged hinting diversion of Rs 24billion in discretionary funds for lawmakers to carry out uplift projects in respective areas.

Talking to media here, the minister said that the federal government had diverted Rs 24 billion from some other heads to the PSDP [Public Sector Development Projects] and that the amount was not solely diverted from the CPEC head.

“Yes, we have diverted some amount from the CPEC head but there are other heads too from where the amount was diverted,” the minister said.

Rs24 billion has been diverted from grant number 137, which is related to CPEC and other initiatives, according to official documents of the Ministry of Planning and Development. The money has been moved to the Cabinet Division’s grant number 108, which already has an allocation of Rs5 billion.

With additional Rs24 billion, the total spending on parliamentarians’ schemes would be Rs29 billion this year. In its last year, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government spent Rs32.6 billion under the PM’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Achievement Fund. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration has begun the journey with an Rs29-billion spending plan for its first year in power.

Both the PML-N and the PTI have used the name of SDGs to push ahead with their political agendas.

The CPEC and other initiatives have a total approved allocation of Rs27 billion and diversion of Rs24 billion suggest that CPEC projects will be adversely affected. This also shows that the PTI government gives less priority to CPEC and is keen to win and retain political loyalties of members of the National Assembly by doling out taxpayer money.

The discretionary spending is also a violation of the Supreme Court’s judgement in the discretionary spending case of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.