ISLAMABAD: The government’s political priorities and needs of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) have eaten up almost half of the development spending in first quarter of current fiscal year, leaving very little behind to meet the uplift fund requirement of over three dozen ministries.
From July to September this year, the Ministry of Planning and Development released Rs150.7 billion under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) spending portfolio. Of this sum, Rs72.6 billion or 48% of the total releases were given to TDPs, military establishment and funding the schemes of parliamentarians ahead of the local government (LG) elections.
A significant chunk of Rs52.6 billion has gone towards meeting the TDPs and military needs, according to Ministry of Planning and Development. The operation Zarb-e-Azb related releases are over half of the annual budget allocation of Rs100 billion for TDPs and military establishment.
The Ministry of Finance has made the Rs100 billion TDP budget, which is non-development spending in nature, a part of the PSDP aimed at showing the development spending at higher end.
The Planning and Development Ministry also handed over the entire annual allocation of Rs20 billion of parliamentarians’ schemes to Cabinet Division in first three months.
The PSDP spending is directly linked with the tax authorities’ abiliy to achieve its annual target of Rs3.104 trillion. Federal Board of Revenue faced a tax shortfall of Rs64 billion in the first quarter, which will have a direct bearing on the annual PSDP allocation.
For instance, the Ministry of Planning gave no budget to Ministry of Ports and Shipping that has annual allocation of Rs12 billion. Similarly, the Planning Ministry did not give a penny for spending in the less-developed provincial areas against the annual allocation of Rs28 billion.
Some other ministries got very little in the first quarter of the fiscal year. The Ministry of Water and Power got only Rs2.3 billion or 7.6% of its annual allocation for water related projects.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) that has annual allocation of Rs159.6 billion received only Rs14.1 billion. The NHA is undertaking CPEC projects and should have been given one-fifth of its annual budget, as per National Economic Council (NEC) approved distribution formula.
During bi-annual review, the Ministry of Planning and Development cuts the development budget allocations of those ministries that remain unable to spend their due shares or get less allocation due to the government’s other pressing needs.
Wapda got Rs23.5 billion. However, Rs20 billion were released against two projects which are being set up in Punjab.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.