The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has immediately directed the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday to ensure prompt release funds for federal projects in provinces to avoid any discord. The Senate Standing Committee had observed a delay in disbursement of funds to Balochistan and Sindh.
The committee, chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, was informed on the status of funds utilisation by the finance ministry officials.
It has been noticed that the release of funds for several projects has been trivial. If this isn’t resolved, the issue could take a political dimension, Senator Saud Majeed of PML-N said.
When these issues end up being raised by the governments of Sindh and Balochistan, it lends credence to the perception of Islamabad’s dominance on resources and its lack of interest in the development of provinces, he also mentioned.
Senator Mohsin Leghari expressed disappointment with the conduct of the ministry that ignored Senate’s recommendations for timely release of funds. Mr Mandviwalla brought forth about the criticism of Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah over delays in the federal share for water and sewerage projects in Karachi.
Finance ministry has also been instructed by the committee to share the details of releases made for federal government funded projects in the provinces. The committee was also apprised with regards to the subsidies for power sector and fertiliser manufacturers were on track as per their allocations in the Federal Budget 2016-17.
It was brought to the notice of the committee that Rs180 billion was allocated for subsidies in the current fiscal year. So far Rs118b has been utilised including Rs86b for power sector and Rs13b for the fertiliser sector.
Hearings were also held by the committee over complaints filed against banking sector. Senior bankers updated the committee about the steps initiated to check frauds, money laundering and inconvenience faced by customers. Officials also recognised the losses incurred by banks because of frauds and unauthorised money transfers.
The officials also stated that due to the centralization of data of all bank account holders, the possibility of bank frauds has declined significantly. Evaluation of several clauses of the Companies Bill, 2017 which has been passed by the National Assembly was also undertaken by the committee.
It was decided in the meeting after completing the review of the bill, that a committee meeting would also be conducted in Lahore to discuss budget proposals of Gujranwala, Sialkot, Faisalabad and Lahore chambers of commerce and industry.