Development spending targets missed

ISLAMABAD: The government has been quick in disbursing the whole of the annual allocations for parliamentarians’ development schemes against only 15 per cent releases for the current year’s core national development programme.

More than 42.5pc disbursement for security enhancement and settlement of the ‘temporarily displaced persons’ (TDP) against the allocation of Rs100 billion, coupled with the entire Rs20bn released for the ‘prime minister’s global SDGs (Sustai­nable Development Goals) achievement programme, helped raise the total disbursements for the Public Sector Development Pro­gramme (PSDP 2016-17) to 21pc by Nov 18.

Excluding these two heads, the core development expenditure during the period was struggling at Rs104bn of the annual allocation of Rs680bn, accounting for about 15.3pc.

The Rs42.5bn for security and settlement of TDPs was the biggest spending so far this year by any sector but, according to an official, details of the expenditures on various projects under this head have been kept as a ‘guarded secret’ because of their utilisation by the armed forces.

Ironically, the disbursements for priority development areas of the government — electricity, highways and water — stood at 5.2pc, 10pc and 12pc.

The power sector was provided Rs6.8bn against annual allocation of Rs130bn, national highways Rs19bn against Rs188bn and water schemes Rs3.84bn against Rs31.7bn. The three areas were given a total of Rs29.6bn (8.45pc) against an allocation for the year of Rs350bn.

The government released Rs168bn for the entire federal PSDP against total allocation of Rs800bn — about 21pc.

This disbursement was significantly lower than the targets set by the government under which it should have released at least 32pc of annual allocations.

Under the government’s disbursement mechanism, it should release 20pc funds each in the first two quarters of a fiscal year and 30pc each in the subsequent quarters.

During almost the same period last year, the government had disbursed about Rs200bn against the annual allocation of Rs700bn, accounting for about 29pc.

The disbursements this year for PSDP projects were significantly lower than last year because of revenue shortfalls in the first four months against the targets.

On the other hand, all the 38 federal ministries and divisions were provided Rs52.7bn against an allocation of Rs234.3bn, showing a disbursement ratio of 22.5pc.

No funds were disbursed for special federal development projects for which Rs28bn had been allocated in the budget.

The railways was one of the few preferred sectors that got a reasonable disbursement of Rs13.5bn by mid-November against its annual share of Rs41bn.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission also received Rs7.2bn of the annual allocation of Rs28bn.

The Higher Education Com­mission was given Rs4.4bn against its annual share of Rs21.5bn.