PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan’s home district, Swat, i.e. has received the highest allocation of Rs7.78 billion in the annual development programme for the current financial year, claims NGO Omar Asghar Foundation in a report.
The report titled ‘Purse Strings and People’s Priorities: An Analysis of Development Funds in KP Budget 2020-21’ has dissected sectoral allocations, block funding and funds for schools, healthcare and other sectors proposed in the ADP.
According to the reports, a ranking of districts on the basis of the allocation of development funds places Swat on top with Rs7.78 billion.
The district will also receive funds from the district ADP under the Provincial Finance Commission Award and from other block funding and thus, increasing its share in the development pie.
Mardan district is next in the line with Rs7 billion funds.
Nowshera district, the hometown of former chief minister Pervez Khattak, which was on top in terms of development funding from 2014 to 2018, is seventh on the list with an allocation of Rs4.2 billion.
NGO report shows majority of less developed districts have received less than Rs1 billion each
The report said though Nowshera’s allocation jumped up from Rs3.65 billion in the last fiscal to Rs4.2 billion in the current, the inclusion of merged and new districts also affected its ranking.
“If settled districts are ranked separately, Nowshera will get the fourth place,” it said.
According to the report, Khyber tribal district with an allocation of Rs5.5 billion is the third on the list followed, South Waziristan fourth with Rs4.66 billion and Mohmand sixth with Rs4.52 billion.
Kolai-Palas district, which has been carved out of Kohistan district, is at the bottom of the development allocation list with Rs0.09 billion.
Likewise, Lower Kohistan and Lower Chitral districts have got similar allocations of Rs0.11 billion and Tank district Rs0.17 billion.
Majority of less developed districts, including Battagram, Upper Kohistan, Shangla, Upper Chitral, Buner, Torghar, Lower Dir, Malakand, Lakki Marwat and Upper Dir, have received development funds less than Rs1 billion each.
The report said Lakki Marwat, Tank, Battagram, Buner and Kohistan had repeatedly secured the last three spots on the funding list.
It proposed a PFC formula with the assistance of economist Dr Kaiser Bengali and said 20 per cent weightage should be given to total population, area and urban population each to efficiently extend development assistance to citizens living in a district.
The report also said the remaining funds should be equally divided among five criteria relating to equity, including poverty, female enrollment in school, total enrollment, inverse of cultivable land, and forest areas.
It said Swat would get Rs20.6 billion or three times more than the current allocation if the proposed ADP was implemented, while for Battagram and Tank, variations would be staggering, as Battagram would receive over Rs11 billion, which was 37 per cent more than current allocation, while Tank’s share would jump to Rs9.7 billion compared to the current Rs0.17 billion.
The analysis of spending priorities showed that the healthcare budget witnessed a substantial increase of 79 per cent from Rs13.6 billion in the last fiscal to Rs24.38 billion in the current.
The report said the cumulatively social sector topped the spending list with total allocation of Rs81 billion followed by infrastructure with Rs65.7 billion.
It said a total of Rs219 billion or 69 per cent of total development outlay were parked in block allocation.
According to it, the trend analysis since 2013 showed that normally more than half of ADP has been consistently been retained under block allocations.
“Reduce block allocations and greater granularity of information on priorities and spending will enhance transparency, promote accountability and enable citizen engagement in public finance,” it said.
When contacted, a spokesman for the finance minister said specific schemes had been kept for the development of less developed districts like the Least Developed Districts Uplift Programme, which covers Kolai Palas, Battagram, Tank, Kohistan Upper, Shangla, Buner, Chitral and Hangu.
He said the government had also launched regional development initiatives to achieve SDGs in the shape of Malakand Area Development Programme and Torghar Integrated Area Development Project.
The spokesman said the focus of the increased investment in healthcare was on provision of equitable health services, while merged districts were being developed from not just ADP but also from AIP to bring them on a par with settled areas.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2020