RAWALPINDI: Due to non-utilisation, Rs250 million of the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation’s (RMC) funds lapsed in July and the civic agency has now requested the Punjab government to give the money back.

The former PML-N led Punjab government had secured a loan worth $150 million from World Bank in 2013 for improving public infrastructure in five large cities of the province- Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala.

The former provincial government provided money to these cities as a grant-in-aid and the loan will be returned by the Punjab government.

RMC received its share of the loan, Rs250 million, in early 2018 and with this money, it started to construct the community hall and improve the infrastructure of the Municipal Public Library, Pirwadhai General Bus Stand and the Slaughter House.

Civic agency could not utilise funds due to ban on development work, accounts were frozen till after election day, RMC officials say

“The election commission had stopped the civic body from continuing work and froze accounts [for the elections] and therefore all the buildings are under construction. After becoming functional, RMC received all funds except for that from the World Bank loan,” a senior RMC official told Dawn.

He said the civic agency had contacted the Punjab Finance Department which had said the funds had lapsed due to non-utilisation.

“This is strange because the election commission had stopped development works and we could not use the money till the day after the elections,” he said.

The officer added that Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem was informed about the situation as the contractors were waiting for the go-ahead for starting work. The mayor wrote to the finance department, requesting that the funds be released, he said.

“Due to this, work on the reconstruction of the library was stopped. Books and other material were shifted to the RMC offices. Library members visit the civic body’s office to ask when the library building will be completed,” the official said.

The slaughter house on Railway Road and Pirwadhai General Bus Stand are also incomplete and the contractors have been asked to start work as payment will be started in a month, he said.

However, he said, the contractors wanted the money to be released to them first. The official added that a meeting with the contractors has been called in which the RMC will convince them to start work.

A Punjab Finance Department official said that under the law, the funds have lapsed and will be released soon. A formal letter has been received but will take a few days to process, he said.

RMC Finance Officer Shahzad Gondal said the RMC has received all its funds except its share from the World Bank loan. He said preparations for the projects have been made and they will be started as soon as the funds are received.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2018