Government using development projects for political gains: NA committee

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ISLAMABAD: As the government is releasing funds to development projects despite the huge budget deficit and financial constraints, the members of National Assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Wednesday criticized the government for distributing projects and allocating funds on political consideration. The members blamed the government of using development projects as political tools with the aim to provide leverage to PML-N in the upcoming elections.

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

Later even the member of PML-N and chairman of the committee Abdul Majeed Khan Khanankhail also admitted the unjustified distribution of development funds saying policy decision was needed over development projects. He also said that due to bureaucratic hurdles and delays in the completion of the projects were leading escalation in the cost of the projects.

PPP member Dr Nafisa Shah said that almost all the development projects of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines ltd were in Central Punjab and one division of KP, while the Sui Southern Gas Company was not even taking up the project to supply gas for an industrial estate in Khairpur, Sindh which is also one of the largest gas producing districts of the country.

She also directly pointed out the ruling party that several projects with unclear titles amounting to around Rs40 billion and said that these projects like building local roads mainly in Punjab should not be part of the federal agenda.

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

On the other hand, MQM’s Sheikh Salahuddin, after pointing towards several projects said that projects have been dumped and there was no forum to seek their progress report.

“The Karachi package and the Hyderabad package was announced when we voted for the prime minister, we provided the list of projects based on their priority – but nobody knows what has happened now? Mr Salahuddin added.

He even pointed out that the K-4 water supply project was in doldrums, which was to be completed at the cost of Rs25 billion by mid of 2017.

“Now its cost has been raised to Rs40 billion, with Rs29 already spent and only 15 per cent of the work has been completed,” he said.

Responding to his query, officials from the planning commission said that funds of federal component have already been transferred but the execution authority for K-4 and S-3 waste water outflow project was the Sindh Government.

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

However, the SNGPL official said that schemes to 18,000 kilometre pipelines have been approved for the current fiscal year but the company has been able to execute work only at 9,500 kilometres, due to financial constraints and other issues the remaining target cannot be completed in the remaining period of current fiscal.