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ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission is asking ministries, donors and executing agencies to provide a list of priority projects, which need to be completed during this fiscal year with a view to achieve the development goals set by the government.

The decision to seek proposals from project sponsors, donors and divisions was taken during a recent review of fund releases against various Public Sector Development Programmes (PSDP) and projects during the first quarter of 2017-18.

According to the review, the Planning Commission has released Rs37 billion more PSDP funds during the first quarter of this fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of last fiscal year. During the July-September quarter an amount of Rs147.3bn has been released for 291 projects.

According to the report, higher releases have been made in transport and communication, water, social welfare, culture, higher education, SDGs, special areas, food and agriculture, industries, minerals and Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).

Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal has directed the ministry officials to ensure the availability of sufficient funds to fast-track completion of the PSDP projects during the current fiscal year. The minister further maintained that special focus has to be made towards priority areas of the public interest.

The government has already allocated Rs2.513 trillion inclusive of federal and provincial PSDP allocations for 2017-18 which is the highest ever in the country’s development history, and furthermore it is 25pc higher than 2016-17.

Whereas, for 2016-17, the national development outlay was set at Rs1,675bn which included federal PSDP of Rs800bn and provincial ADPs of Rs875bn.

It was felt during the review that Pakistan has to make significant leap forward in areas like education, health and social development to catch up with its peers. Education and health sector is the major focus of incumbent government where it is working on opening a university campus in each district of Pakistan.

During 2016-17 an amount of Rs4,439.4m in the first quarter of the year, whereas the amount released in these sectors for 2017-18 has gone up to Rs6,508.7m.

Sufficient funds to the tune of Rs1,374.2m have been released for 16 education and training programmes. An amount of Rs4,327.9m was released for 2016-17 for its 23 health projects, and 17 projects of 2017-18 have been provided with Rs1,998m so far.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017