Rs1.41tr development budget set to pursue 2.3pc growth target

Updated Jun 05 2020

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The APCC meeting approved a federal public sector development programme (PSDP) worth Rs630 billion. — AFP/File
The APCC meeting approved a federal public sector development programme (PSDP) worth Rs630 billion. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Amid alleged boycott by Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mir Kamal Khan Alyani, the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) on Thursday finalised total development outlay of about Rs1.41 trillion to achieve an economic growth rate of about 2.3 per cent next fiscal year (2020-21).

The APCC meeting, presided over by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Jahanzeb Khan, approved a federal public sector development programme (PSDP) worth Rs630 billion. The four provinces would have cumulative development plans of Rs783bn for next year.

However, the core PSDP would have an allocation of Rs536bn. An amount of Rs94bn would be tentatively made available for special areas and programmes including Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, security development, resettlement of temporary displaced persons (TDPs), mainstreaming of tribal region into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Informed sources said Jam Kamal, who was in Islamabad and joined the meeting via video link, protested over purported discrimination against his provinces in selection of federal projects and funding allocations thereto.

Balochistan CM denounces ‘less preference and strategy’ for his province

Later, he took to social media platform Twitter to claim that he (as minister planning incharge of his province) and provincial finance minister Zahoor Buledi boycotted the APCC meeting for “less preference and strategy in doing Balochistan projects”.

A Planning Commission official claimed that this statement was misleading and was unexpected from a chief minister. He conceded that Mr Kamal expressed certain reservations but did not say he was boycotting the meeting as he was assured that APCC was just a consultative forum and final decisions take place at higher forums like National Economic Council led by the prime minister where his points could be accommodated.

Most of the participants attended the meeting through video link. Mr Jehanzeb told the meeting that the economy was heading towards revival until beginning of March 2020 when it was hit by Covid-19 pandemic that changed the economic landscape.

The meeting was informed that before the pandemic, exchange rate stability and overall fiscal performance was satisfactory barring tax revenues, reserves were building-up, current account deficit was reduced massively and inflation after peaking in January started deceleration, remittances were improving and industrial output was going up and IMF targets for three quarters were fully met.

The APCC was informed that economic growth was set to rise over 3pc but came down to negative 0.4pc because of the pandemic as industrial and services sector were badly affected. Pressure on government spending mounted, exports contracted in April 2020 but imports fell much more quickly.

Inflation will be in the lower single digit next year, and external account will be comfortably placed with lower current account deficit. However, exports and remittances are likely to face challenging global environment.

The major strategy for PSDP 2020-21 will focus on completion of ongoing projects, Covid-19 responsive development programme, more funds for social sector compared to infrastructure and funding of only approved projects as per provision of Public Finance Management Act 2019.

In the Water Sector, large multipurpose dams particularly Diamer Bhasha, Mohmand, Dasu dams and drainage projects have been proposed adequate funds. Small scale provincial nature dams and drainage projects for less developed districts have been proposed allocations.

In the PSDP 2020-21, 59pc allocation would be for infrastructure, 35pc (Rs185bn) to Social Sector, and the remaining 6pc to other sectors.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020