PESHAWAR, Jan 11: Though Khyber Pakhtunkhwa needs Rs10 billion annually to maintain its roads, it spends only Rs1 billion annually for the purpose, according to a top official of the provincial government.

The fiscal space available with the provincial government increased quite significantly during the last two years following the new National Finance Commission Award as a result of which the government increased development expenditure on various sectors. However, it still lacks the fiscal ability to meet the growing needs of maintaining the existing road network.

“We are spending what we can afford from our pocket,” said provincial communication and works secretary Zahid Arif.

Replying to questions at a news conference along with information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Mr Arif acknowledged that the road network in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not of international standards, leaving it to be far of short of meeting the Millennium Development Goal targets by 2015 vis-à-vis improving the existing road network.“The government has undertaken a number of projects during the past four and a half years to improve the road network but it still has to look to its pocket,” said the secretary, adding that the government was spending Rs1 billion annually to maintain the existing roads across the province.

Explaining the government’s progress in the road sector since it came into office in 2008, Mr Arif said the C&W department completed work on 2,430 kilometers of roads and constructed 31 bridges at the cost of Rs36 billion.

He said work on 276 kilometers of roads and six more bridges was in progress in different parts of the province as part of the government’s efforts to improve the road network.

According to the secretary, 10 bridges and 518 kilometers of roads are being constructed with a total Asian Development Bank funding of Rs10 billion. Similarly, work on 687 kilometers long roads and 11 bridges has been initiated with JICA’s support.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the first among the four provinces in drawing digital map as the C&W carried out GIS and MIS of the entire province after which we have an effective data base with which we are monitoring our road network and its future requirements,” he said.

The secretary said the government was brought down the number of ongoing development schemes by diverting 80 per cent of the available financial resources to complete the existing development schemes in an effort to bring down its ‘throw-forward’ liabilities.

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