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Fata uplift low on govt priority list

July 17, 2013
A girl holds a bunch of celery stalks. — Photo by AFP/File
A girl holds a bunch of celery stalks. — Photo by AFP/File

PESHAWAR, July 16: The most underdeveloped region of the country and a frontline territory in the war against terrorism, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) seems to be low on the government’s priority list as it received only 82 per cent funds of the Annual Development Programme during the previous financial year.

Officials dealing with monetary affairs in Fata Civil Secretariat told Dawn that the federal government released Rs11.8 billion against the total allocation of Rs14.3 billion in the fiscal year 2012-13 that affected the pace of development schemes in the conflict wrecked tribal borderlands.

“Financial year starts from July 1 while the federal government normally makes first release at the end of August that also in two installments,” said a source.

In principle, the source said, finance division should make full releases in first and second quarters to enable the authorities concerned to undertake development activities in Fata.

The officials dispelled the impression that directorates and other entities functioning under the Fata Secretariat did not have the required capacity and expertise to utilise the entire funds earmarked for development schemes in the ADP.

They said that delay in releases was main factor behind slow pace of work as a result throw forward liabilities were also increasing.

“There is no problem of capacity,” said another functionary, adding that finance division released funds for the first and second quarters during the previous financial year in four installments that drastically affected development activities.

The officials said Fata needed more attention and resources keeping in view destruction and ratio of poverty there.

The National Economic Council had approved Public Sector Development Programme 2013-14 with an outlay of Rs540 billion and the share of Fata in it was Rs18.5 billion which included Rs1.9 billion foreign aid components. The officials said that education, communication and health sectors topped the priority list in ADP.

According to the sector-wise allocations, education will get Rs3.6 billion, health Rs1.5 billion, public health engineering Rs1.3 billion, communication Rs3.3 billion, housing Rs262.9 million, power Rs316.1 million, agriculture Rs383.9 million, livestock and dairy development Rs443.9 million, forests Rs669.9 million, fisheries Rs34.6 million, rural development Rs249 million, regional development Rs814.16 million, irrigation Rs1.4 billion, minerals, industries and technical education Rs139.4 million and social welfare Rs24.12 million.

Two new sectors -- sports, culture and youth affairs and population welfare -- have been introduced in Fata for the first time and both sectors have been allocated Rs152.5 million and Rs91.2 million respectively in the ADP.

The officials said that formula for distribution of ADP among seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions was 65 per cent on the basis of population and 35 per cent on the basis of territory. Parliamentarians from Fata had agreed with the formula.

Under the formula share of Bajaur Agency in ADP is approximately Rs1.6 billion, Mohmand Rs1.1 billion. Khyber Rs1.6 billion, FR Peshawar Rs224.1 million, Kurram Rs1.5 billion, Orakzai Rs764.7 million, FR Kohat Rs331.9 million, North Waziristan Rs1.5 billion, FR Bannu Rs219.3 million, FR Lakki Rs101.4 million, South Waziristan Rs2.01 billion, FR Tank Rs302.5 million and FR Dera Ismail Khan Rs443.9 million.

The officials claimed that the secretariat on the directives of Governor Eng Shaukatullah had prepared certain guidelines to ensure proper utilisation of ADP in Fata. They said that thinning of resources had resulted in pilferage and wastage of resources therefore ban had been imposed on skewed development growth.

For this purpose, schemes like construction of shingle roads and other projects which facilitate one family instead of the whole community have been banned.

The main chunk of ADP would go to reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in the area. Another major component of the programme is that secretariat and its line departments would focus on solar energy. Major health facilities, information technology laboratories and other facilities would be provided solar energy in the region.