ISLAMABAD: While the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is unlikely to reconsider its decision to cut the development budget to Rs750 billion in the next budget, Ministry of Planning and Development, has proposed projects worth Rs1.3 trillion for financial year 2018-19.
Showing its strong reservations over the announced ceiling on the development budget, the planning ministry has written a letter to the finance division demanding for considering the new priority projects and ongoing projects for the next financial year.
During a media talk held at the planning ministry here on Friday, Secretary of the ministry Shuaib Siddiqui said that his ministry was trying to convince the finance division for accommodating maximum number of important projects. “However, the finance ministry will be deciding about the development budget as per financial constraints and available resources,” he said indicating that the finance division may not approve the demand of Rs 1.3 trillion for upcoming fiscal year’s development budget.
As the ministry of planning is not satisfied with the finance ministry’s decision to allocate only Rs750 to Rs800 billion for Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for fiscal year 2018-19, the former has sent the letter to MoF demanding the huge amount which higher than the ongoing financial year’s budget of Rs1,001 billion.
The MoF was of the view that the outgoing government should not allocate funds for new development schemes and this should be left to the next government. The planning ministry wanted that at least Rs200 billion should be reserved in the new budget so that the next government may finance projects of its choice.
The secretary said that in case the proposals of his ministry are not accepted, no new development project could be introduced in next financial year. He said CPEC related projects, water, infrastructure and educations programs and development schemes in Balochistan were given priority in the proposals.
According to him the projects worth Rs1 trillion were proposed by different ministries. National Highway Authority (NHA) has demanded Rs700 billion for its various projects. Most of the indicative development budget would go to the NHA, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and other priority areas of the government, they added.
The formal process to approve financial year 2018-19’s development and recurrent budgets began on Monday with the first meeting of the Priorities Committee. The Priorities Committee has so far reviewed budget requirements of various ministries and divisions.
The Priorities Committee places its recommendation on development budget in front of the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC), which is headed by the Planning Commission deputy chairman and has authority to make changes. The meeting of APCC is likely to be held on April 15 or 16. The APCC then gives its proposals to National Economic Council, which is headed by the prime minister and has representation of all the federating units. The NEC is going to meet on April 20.
Negating the impression that the Chinese investment in CPEC and related projects has slowed down, the secretary said Chinese authorities have made it clear that they strongly believe in fulfilling all commitments made regarding the development projects. As per the long term plan signed between Pakistan and China, the Chinese authorities are willing to interact with authorities here for moving forward on agricultural projects.
“Pakistan has become the major recipient of Chinese concessional loans,” Shuaib Siddiqui said adding China is supporting all committed CPEC projects. According to him both Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Development are going to visit China soon.