ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission on Thursday reported that more than 90 per cent development projects were facing cost and time overruns indicating faulty planning.
Testifying before a senate panel, a team of planning ministry led by additional secretary Ali Reza also said the commission disbursed only Rs94 billion — 9pc against budgetary allocation — for development projects in the first quarter of the current fiscal year against the required 20pc target.
Reza told the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development that the government’s decision to rationalise the public sector development programme (PSDP) has caused delay in disbursement during the current year.
The meeting was presided over by Chairman of the Committee, Senator Agha Shahzaib Khan Durrani.
The secretary said the government has slashed PSDP to Rs675bn, including Rs531bn of local funds and Rs144bn of foreign exchange component instead of budgeted allocation of Rs1,001bn.
Minister for Planning warned of action under Article 66 for prolonged absence
The total disbursements amounted to Rs94.1bn, including Rs63bn of rupee component, Rs30.336bn in foreign exchange and stood at 14pc of the revised Rs675bn PSDP, he said.
The committee took a strong exception to the continued absence of Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and Secretary in charge Zafar Hassan, who have missed 6-8 such consecutive meetings, and warned that the senate may take action against both the ministry officials under Article 66 of the constitution.
Discussing the Gwadar City Master Plan, the committee was told that the residents of Gwadar were facing serious difficulties due to delay in the city master plan as they were not being given NOCs for construction of their houses.
Kauda Babar asked the planning ministry that why Rs25bn allocated for Gwadar were not released during past 15 years.
Planning ministry officials said that the federal government had to release funds to the Balochistan government to execute the conceived projects under the Gwadar Business Plan.
Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmad said that people of Gwadar were living miserable lives and they did not have access to potable water.
Members were of the view that the plan had been devised by a steering committee without any consultation with the locals and that public representatives from the province should be given representation on the Committee so that the project and planning could be made according to their will and aspiration.
The committee ordered that there should be no compromise on the education sector, particularly for Balochistan, whose 4 approved HEC projects were chopped off from the PSDP at rationalisation stage.
Senator Durrani deplored that 90pc of the projects were getting delayed, which is escalating their cost and indicating poor planning and estimation.
The Planning Commission was directed to devise an evaluation process to assess and control the cost and time overruns to avoid losses in billions.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018