RAWALPINDI: The federal and Punjab governments have released millions of rupees for development schemes in the National Assembly constituencies across the province. Work on the projects will start from February 1.

However, opposition parties here termed the government move a part of its preparations for the mid-term elections.

Each constituency of the National Assembly in the 36 districts of Punjab would get Rs200 million - Rs100 million to be provided by the federal and Rs100 million by the Punjab government.

Earlier, the district administrations had been informed that each constituency would get Rs500 million. So the government was provided with work plans prepared by the PML-N lawmakers and local leaders on the basis of this promise.

Opposition parties term govt move part of its preparations for next elections

However, on Saturday, the government released Rs130 million for each constituency, saying the remaining Rs70 million would be arranged next week. The district administrations were informed that the federal and provincial governments had decided to cut down the development funds from Rs500 million to Rs200 million for each constituency.

A senior official of the Punjab finance department told Dawn that after the initial communication the department had prepared working plans and estimated that Rs74 billion would be spent on development schemes.

“Having less money available with the provincial government, it was decided to reduce the development funds,” he said, adding there were already a number of incomplete projects launched under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) which also have to be completed.

He said funds allocated for the health and education sectors were yet to be released.

A senior leader of the PML-N told Dawn that the government had already received development plans from PML-N parliamentarians on the basis of the Rs500 million each constituency promise. However, after the imposition of a cut on the development works, the number of schemes would also be reduced.

He said the MNAs had submitted the plans to a committee formed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and comprising Sheikh Aftab and retired Capt Mohammad Safdar.

In those constituencies where the PML-N lost the 2013 elections the local party leaders or ticket holders submitted the priority works to the respective district administrations.

“The MNA or party ticket holder provided a list of schemes worth Rs100 million each and two MPAs or the party ticket holders submitted projects worth Rs50 million each to the district administration concerned,” he said.

Interestingly, MNAs and MPAs belonging to the opposition parties would have no say in the development work.

When contacted, Awami Muslim league (AML) President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the PML-N government had started preparations for elections. He claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would soon dissolve the assemblies and announce new elections this year.

“Opposition members are not included in the development works. I received Rs50 million three years ago from the National Assembly but the funds are still with the deputy commissioner without being utilised.” Mr Rashid said the projects of Mother and Child Hospital and the Girls College Saddar initiated by him were pending for over eight years. “I met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar but the projects could not be started despite his assurance,” he said.

PTI MPA Raja Rashid Hafeez told Dawn that the PML-N had started a campaign for the 2018 elections and was doling out funds for development projects.

“Opposition members of the national and Punjab assemblies are being neglected again. In the last three years, the provincial government did not provide any funds to the opposition members for development of their constituencies. We protested against the indifference of the provincial government but to no avail.”

He said the opposition members were left with no other option but to remain in contact with the citizens and help them on their own.

Published in Dawn January 22nd, 2017


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