ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission has quickened the pace of authorisation of funds for the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) to meet requirements of the Public Finance Management Act introduced last year under covenants agreed with international lending agencies.
Data released by the commission on Friday put the total authorisation of funds for federal development projects at Rs320.24 billion, which comes to more than 49 per cent of the annual budget allocation of Rs650bn.
During the same period last year, the Planning Commission had authorised disbursement of Rs257bn, or 46.6pc of the annual allocation of Rs551bn.
Under an altered strategy, the commission has now excluded block allocations that used to be managed by the finance ministry or the Cabinet Division mostly for political reasons and shown as part of the PSDP.
As such, special projects for the districts of tribal region merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, resettlement of displaced persons and politically oriented funds for special development goals are no longer part of the PSDP because diversion of major part of these funds for security enhancement through technical supplementary grants used to generate political controversies.
Under the Public Finance Management Act, 2019 the finance ministry has now put in place a new strategy for release of funds for development projects. This requires the finance ministry to release development funds at the rate of 20pc in the first quarter and 30pc each in the second and third quarters of the fiscal year. The remaining 20pc is to be released in the last quarter.
The Planning Commission said it had authorised about 56.5pc (Rs207bn) of the total annual allocations for development projects under the federal ministries (Rs366bn). In comparison, total authorisation for ministries last year stood at Rs134bn, or 44.2pc of the Rs304bn allocation.
Similarly, the commission authorised release of about Rs87bn as of Friday to two major entities — the National Highway Authority and the power sector — accounting for 55pc of their annual allocation of Rs158bn.
During the same period last year, Rs100.5bn (51pc) was released against the total annual allocation of Rs198bn.
The authorisation of funds for development in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, however, remained almost unchanged at 48pc as of December 18 of both the years. During the current year so far, about Rs25bn has been authorised for utilisation out of a Rs52bn allocation, while Rs21.5bn out of Rs45bn was disbursed last year in the same period.
The data showed that the finance ministry had so far utilised slightly over Rs33bn as of Friday against an allocation of Rs66.7bn for the whole year. In the comparable period last year, the ministry had utilised Rs5bn against an allocation of about Rs12.8bn.
The authorisation of funds for the Higher Education Commission also remained unchanged at Rs14bn in both the years against a total allocation of over Rs29bn.
The Water Resources Division has received about Rs45bn so far this year compared to Rs38bn in the same period last year even though the total allocation for the current year at Rs81bn is lower than last year’s Rs86bn.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2020