ADP spending in Punjab shows secys lauded, censured ‘in haste’

Published October 17, 2021
This file photo shows development work under way in Lahore. — Photo courtesy: Syed Muhammad Abubakar/File
This file photo shows development work under way in Lahore. — Photo courtesy: Syed Muhammad Abubakar/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government has in the first quarter of current financial year utilised Rs67 billion out of total Rs567bn development budget explaining that the ‘appreciation’ and ‘displeasure’ letters to six administrative secretaries each on the basis of spending were issued ‘in haste’.

The chief secretary had conveyed chief minister’s dissatisfaction to secretaries of women development, population welfare, environment protection, human rights and minorities affairs, mines and minerals, auqaf and religious affairs departments for low utilisation of development budget released to them.

Similarly, ‘appreciation’ letters were issued to six secretaries of planning and development board, literacy and non-formal basic education, school education, emergency service (1122) director general, agriculture and energy departments for their efforts in utilising the ADP funds.

As the figures of total funds utilisation were revealed, different secretaries Dawn spoke to, stated that the appreciation and displeasure letters were seen in bad taste as the budget spending was never so high in the first quarter and most of the funds are [historically] utilised in the last quarter.

The secretaries also said that the displeasure letters were ignored as they were issued for no reason. Some said different departments utilised more budget but could not join the ‘top six secretaries club’ because the ADP volume of their respective departments was much higher.

“The first quarter usually see secretaries to get their development schemes, having more than Rs400 million budget, approved from the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP),” a secretary said. Similarly, the secretaries were themselves busy in finalising the schemes costing less than Rs400m.

At the secretaries committee meeting, it is learnt that P&D Chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal gave a presentation on the utilisation of development budget telling that Rs67bn had been utilised in the first quarter. He said the PDWP had so far approved 122 development schemes out of total 237. As many as 14 schemes have been dropped, while 101 are yet to be taken up.

The meeting was also told that some 69 development schemes had been approved at the departmental level.

The P&D chairman also explained about 12 foreign assistance projects and stressed that the government should assert for their execution.

Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal appreciated the services of the P&D chairman and the finance secretary in connection with the approval of schemes and release of funds. He said the uplift schemes and infrastructure played a key role in socio-economic development, adding that timely utilisation of funds and transparency in the annual development programme must be ensured. He stressed that all administrative departments should work hard for the timely completion of development projects.

The chief secretary issued instructions to all the secretaries to begin the process of recruitment to fill the vacancies from BS-1 to BS-15 in their respective departments on merit to overcome the shortage of manpower.

He also directed all the secretaries to make transfers and postings in their respective departments based on performance after due diligence.

The chief secretary also directed all departments to implement the guidelines issued regarding dengue and coronavirus. He asked the authorities concerned to pay special attention to the monitoring, surveillance, and reporting regarding dengue, besides taking steps for the larviciding and cleaning up possible mosquito breeding grounds.

Ordering early resolution of complaints received through Pakistan Citizen Portal, Mr Afzal told the officers to perform their duties with the spirit of public service. He also issued directions for expeditious disposal of pending inquiries and pension cases.

The meeting attended by administrative secretaries, however, was not attended by Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR) Babar Hayat Tarar.

It may be mentioned that Mr Tarar is senior to the chief secretary and was not attending the meetings [in person] called by the CS.

Similarly, ACS (Home) Zafar Nasrullah Khan is also senior to the chief secretary. Both officers did not attend the administrative secretaries committee meeting and their subordinates represented them in the meeting.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021

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