Senate body calls for timely release of development funds

Communications secretary says NHA has not received any funding under PSDP for the last six months

ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Planning and Development has directed the finance and planning ministries to ensure timely release of the allocated funds under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in order to avoid delays in the projects.

Discussing the matter of delay in the release of funds, Communications Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik informed the meeting, chaired by Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani, that the Ministry of Communications, including National Highway Authority (NHA), had not received any funding under the PSDP for the past six months.

On this, Planning Secretary Zafar Hassan clarified that the NHA had received extra funds from ‘foreign component’, therefore, the local component was adjusted in the total allocation.

“According to the rules, the size of PSDP must not exceed the allocation size whether the money is adjusted from outside or from within the country,” he said, adding that the NHA had received 134pc of its allocation during the previous fiscal year.

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“An amount of Rs251 billion was released for various development projects of NHA against the total allocation of Rs188 billion,” he informed. “The extra amount came from the Chinese side, especially for Multan-Sukkur and Havelian-Thakot motorways, which was adjusted against the total allocation, while funding from the local component was stopped.”

He said that an amount of Rs116 billion was allocated under ‘local component’ for NHA projects, however, Rs76 billion were released during the year 2018-19.

Hassan said during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (FY20), Rs19.2 billion were to be released by September 30, out of which Rs13.5 billion were to be released for the approved projects while the rest was allocated for unapproved projects.

The communications secretary said since the local allocations was made for a number of small projects, payments for which had not been released due to the matter of adjustment, work on all these projects had been delayed and the contractors had refused to work on these projects.

He asked the committee to recommend early release of funds for these projects so as to avoid any further delay in their execution.

Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Water Resources informed the committee that they had received Rs51 billion, out of Rs65 billion allocated for the year 2018-19.

On this, the planning secretary said by considering the foreign component, 103pc funds were released to the ministry.

Earlier, giving the overall releases of funds during the previous fiscal year, he maintained that an amount of Rs678 billion was released out of total allocated funds of Rs675 billion.

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