CHITRAL: The development grant of Rs100 million, released by federal government under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for a road project in upper Chitral, has been withheld by provincial finance department for the last 40 days, according to sources.

They said that attempts were being made to divert the grant to a project in another district.

MPA Syed Sardar Hussain Shah told this scribe that provincial government already made an attempt to declare it a supplementary grant from the federal government and utilise it for projects of its choice.

He said that the Finance Division had released the grant for first and second quarters (July to December 2016) on January 3, 2017 for transferring the amount to the account of communication and works department which executed the road project. The project is named as “widening and carpeting of Booni-Buzund Torkhow Road”.

MPA says provincial govt wants to divert the amount to another district

Mr Shah said that provincial government had no authority to keep it pending and the grant should be onward released to C&W department within 24 hours of its arrival from the government.

He alleged that the secretary finance was delaying the transfer of the grant to the relevant quarters that cause delay in execution of the project. The completion date of the project, started in June 2009 under PSDP, was June 2018.

The MPA said that there was no precedent of transforming PSDP grant into supplementary grant and utilise it for other projects.

“The role of the provincial government is just like that of a post office, which should deliver the amount of the grant as and when it receives it from the federal government,” he said.

An official, who wished not to be named, said that as per rules, the releases made under PSDP were the prerogatives of the federal government and there was no instance of any supplementary grant, which was over and above the allocated budget.

He said that releases under PSDP were made by the federal government in consultation with the Planning Commission and it was beyond the domain of the provincial government. In the mid-year review meeting of PSDP, no such request for supplementary grant had been received from the provincial government, he added.

Dstrict nazim Maghfirat Shah said that it would be a blatant act of provincial government if the grant was delayed on one pretext or the other as the project started in 2009 was already facing inordinate delay.

He said that district government would resist the move to divert the fund to other district.

The construction of 35 kilometres long road was started in June 2009 under PSDP but it remained incomplete after the allocated amount of Rs350 million was exhausted. The project remained closed till last year when federal government revived it with allocation of Rs1,108 million.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2017