ISLAMABAD: Amid slower than anticipated revenue collection, the government has provided only 44 per cent funds to its ministries for development schemes in more than eight months of the current fiscal year – much lower than last year.
The disbursements to the federal ministries for development were also significantly lower than targeted 65pc spending for the period.
According to details released by the Planning Commission, an amount of Rs104 billion was disbursed to the federal ministries as of March 10, 2017 against an annual allocation of Rs234bn, accounting for 44pc. Compared to this, the government disbursed almost the same amount (Rs103bn) in as much period against an allocation of Rs210bn, accounting for almost 50pc.
On the other hand, the government disbursed about Rs483bn (about 60pc) funds for the overall Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) thanks to aggressive spending on community development schemes on the parliamentarians recommendations. Annual allocation for the entire PSDP 2016-17 amounted to Rs800bn.
During the same period last year, the government had released more than Rs353bn (about 50pc) for overall PSDP against that years’ allocation of Rs700bn. Therefore, the overall spending this year has been higher than same period of last year.
Under the government’s approved disbursement mechanism, the government should have released at least Rs520bn by March 10, 2017.
However, substantial shortfalls in revenue collection during the period contributed to lower disbursements for the development programme, said an official explaining that it was practically impossible to contain major ‘on-tap’ expenditures like debt servicing, defence and running of the government.
In line with the government’s priority to end load shedding, the disbursements for power sector projects have been scaled up significantly over the last month. Total releases for the power sector stood at Rs109bn as of March 10 against an allocation of Rs130bn for the full year, accounting for almost 84pc.
Also, part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the releases to the power sector were struggling at just 12pc at the end of first five months and 36pc at the end of seven months but have been jacked up significantly in February to 84pc. Likewise, the National Highway Authority (NHA) was provided Rs150bn against its annual allocation of Rs188bn or almost 80pc, for being the second top priority of the CPEC.
Ironically on the other hand, the government released just Rs9.4bn for the development projects in the water sector against an annual allocation of Rs31.7bn, accounting for about 30pc. Lower disbursements for the water sector projects was an indication of struggling pace of development despite being a high priority area given continuously declining per capita water availability bordering acute scarcity.
The planning commission said it had released only Rs218 million for aviation division against its annual allocation of Rs4.7bn while cabinet division was provided with Rs307m in eight months against its annual share of Rs369m.
The Capital Administration Division (CAD) was given Rs2.2bn in eight months against its allocation of Rs3.56bn while climate change division received only Rs570m against its annual share of Rs1.03bn even though the Pakistan Met Department has been struggling to make weather forecasts due to obsolete radar system.
The Ministry of Commerce was also given a paltry sum of Rs406m in eight months against its annual share of about Rs797m while the Ministry of Communications received only Rs114m against its allocation of Rs5.3bn.
Likewise, the Ministry of Defence was provided only Rs226m in eight months of the current year against its annual allocation of Rs2.5bn while Defence Production Division got Rs1.5bn against its approved share of Rs2.3bn.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Education and Training was given Rs1.1bn against its approved share of Rs2.22bn. Also, the Ministry of Finance utilised Rs2.4bn against an annual allocation of Rs9.43bn while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not given funds at all during the period against an allocation of Rs500m.
The Higher Education Commission was given Rs8.6bn against its annual share of Rs21.5bn while the Human Rights Division received only Rs24m for development against its full year share of Rs170m.
Ministry of Interior was given a healthy amount of Rs9.6bn in eight months against its annual allocation of Rs11.56bn, to ensure implementation of the National Action Plan to combat terrorism.
The report said the Pakistan Atomic Energy commission was given an amount of Rs17.3bn in eight months against Rs28.8bn allocation while the Ministry of Ports And Shipping was given only Rs834m against its allocation of Rs12bn. The Pakistan Railways received Rs24bn against its annual share of Rs41bn.
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2017