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ISLAMABAD: The government appears to have slowed down spending on development projects in an effort to rein in the country’s fiscal deficit.

The Planning Commission said on Friday that as of Jan 12 the government had disbursed Rs344 billion for the public sector development programme (PSDP), or about 34.4 per cent of the total allocation of Rs1,001bn.

During the same period last year, that is until Jan 13, 2017, the disbursements for PSDP had stood at Rs300bn, or 37.5 per cent of the total allocation of Rs800bn.

Under its approved disbursement mechanism, the government should have released about 40 per cent of the allocated amount in the first half of the year, or about Rs400bn.

The disbursements included a payment of Rs30bn made in the first quarter of the financial year for community development schemes on the recommendations of parliamentarians — codenamed as the Prime Minister’s Global SDGs Achievement Programme — and Rs9.2bn for the PM’s Youth Programme.

The PM’s Global SDGs Achievement Programme is made up of small community uplift schemes formulated on the recommendations of lawmakers, ostensibly for improving the living standards of citizens through road, sewerage and water supply projects, etc.

The Planning Commis-sion data revealed that all the federal ministries were given about Rs92bn in the first half of the year, accounting for 29 per cent of the Rs321bn allocated for them.

Another Rs33bn was disbursed from the Rs71bn block allocations made for three special areas falling under the federal government’s financial control, namely Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Under the approved disbursement mechanism, 20 per cent of the allocated funds were required to be released in each of the first two quarters and 30 per cent each in the third and fourth quarters of the financial year.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018

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