ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives has expressed serious concerns over the non-inclusion of projects recommended by its members for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2020-21.
The committee meeting, chaired by Senator Agha Shahzaib Khan Durrani, also decided to boycott the meeting, besides giving no recommendation to the National Assembly on PSDP.
Committee chairman Agha Shahzaib Durrani observed, “Parliamentarians are public representatives and they strive hard to ensure the welfare of the people and development of the country. But despite trying their best to include welfare projects in the PSDP, it is disappointing that our recommendations are never made part of the final budget.”
Senator Usman Kakar observed that every constituency and district of Balochistan needed development work, “but it’s a pity that our recommendations are not implemented”. He said if the government cannot give assurances in this regard, there is no use of presenting further recommendations.
Senators Kalsoom Parveen, Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi, Gianchand and Naseebullah BAzai were of the opinion that non-inclusion of Senate’s PSDP recommendations “is an insult to the House”. They said the federating units should be heard when provincial projects are finalized and that they should not entirely be based on the recommendations of provincial governments or MNAs.
Senator Hidayatullah remarked that he has been presenting PSDP recommendations for the last eight years but none of his proposals has been worked upon or accepted.
He pointed out that for every 300 students, there is only one classroom on average and for every 180 students, there is just one teacher. “Ex-FATA, which has been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was allocated Rs100 billion in FY20, of which only $30 billion was released and that too failed to serve any purpose,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Planning Minister Asad Umar stated, “It is stated in the rules that the Senate will make recommendations in two weeks to the budget statement but nothing has been mentioned afterwards as to what will be the course of action on those recommendations.”
He informed that the budget is the prerogative of the federal government and the National Assembly, which has to pass it, adding that when it comes to PSDP projects, the provinces have the basic and most important role and the federal government cannot add any project or scheme that has not been approved by the province.
The minister told the committee that provinces are represented in ACNEC and CDWP and soon the government will make a committee where NA and Senate members will be given representations and the implementation status of the PSDP schemes will be analysed.
On this, the members asked as to why the Senate is asked to give recommendations when projects cannot be added without provincial consent. Members spend precious time and energy on preparing the recommendations and when they are not heard or accepted, it turns out to be a futile exercise, they added.