PESHAWAR: An amount of Rs1.67 billion, specified for district development programme under the current Annual Development Programme (ADP) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, remains unutilised though the third quarter of the fiscal is about to end, says an official.
Not even a single district, out of the 25 administrative units in the province, has made development plan for the current fiscal, according to an official concerned.
“The government is talking about to start spending the money in April or May,” he said. As a result, the district specific new small development works carried out at the union council level cannot be undertaken this year so far.
However, the Peshawar-based officials responsible to coordinate with the district administrations their development activities, funded under the district development programme, appear to be lurching in the dark vis-a-vis commencement of the programme this fiscal.
“Even if they don’t move on it in April and May, they would certainly go for releasing the funds before June 30, 2014, to avoid its lapse at the end of the financial year,” said an official with experience of the government’s decision making process.
The district development programme makes an integral part of the provincial government’s ADP. Since the introduction of the devolution of power plan in 2001, the successive provincial governments have been assigning around Rs1.5 billion every year to fund the district development programme. The money is distributed among the districts in accordance with the distribution formula devised previously by the now defunct Provincial Finance Commission.
The programme has not been very effective as the district administrations used to divide their respective funds on equal basis among the union councils in their territories. This left every union council with a few hundred thousands of rupees to undertake small projects of street pavement, streetlights and small water supply schemes.
Though utilisation of funds has always been slow since the introduction of the programme, this year the problem is acute because the current fiscal happens to be the last fiscal when the districts would get Rs1.67 billion.
The sitting provincial government has introduced a new local government law under which the size of the district development fund has been increased significantly as the district development fund would get 30 per cent of the province’s development fund from the next financial year.
This would take the size of the district development fund as high as around Rs25 billion from the next financial year.
According to official sources, the provincial government is not paying attention to the programme this year because it has left the matter for the next year when the district governments would be in place and the new local government system would become functional from July 1.
“The chief minister has indicated to hold the local government elections in April and once the local councils are in place the first thing the councillors would do would be spending the held up funds of the district development programme,” said an official concerned.
He attributed the inaction on the part of the district administrations and their lack of interest to prepare plans for their respective district ADPs to the ‘go-slow’ approach adopted by the provincial government.
He, however, said that government would not let the funds go unutilised. To avoid this to happen, according to the official, the funds would be put at the disposal of the district administrations so that they could use the same in the next fiscal, which is anomalous, but a usual practice in the government departments.