ISLAMABAD: The parliamentarians’ development schemes of the PDM coalition government continue to overshadow the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in the first five months of 2023-24 by utilising the biggest share of expenditure.

The latest data from the Planning Commission, however, apparently showed a relative slowdown in the utilisation of PSDP funds for MNAs’ schemes in November after substantial spending in the first four months.

The total expenditure in the first five months (July-November) on PSDP increased to Rs117 billion, up from Rs76bn in four months until end-October, showing a healthy utilisation of about Rs41bn in November. The biggest share of Rs29.5bn was consumed by MNAs’ schemes by the end of November, showing just a Rs2.3bn increase in a month when compared to Rs27.15bn in four months.

The parliamentarians’ schemes are financed through PSDP in the name of the Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme (SAP).

With Rs39bn utilisation in November to Rs88bn in five months, the federal development expenditure (excluding MNAs schemes) appeared slowly picking up the pace that had earlier stagnated at Rs49bn in the first four months.

Interestingly, the Planning Commission has now reduced the size of the federal PSDP by Rs10bn to Rs940bn against parliamentary budget approval of Rs950bn. The cut has been imposed on the prime minister’s initiatives from Rs80bn to 70bn a few days back. But more interestingly, Rs90bn allocations for MNA’s schemes have remained untouched.

The PDM government had allocated slightly over Rs90bn for parliamentarian schemes for the current fiscal year and authorised for release of about Rs61bn before leaving office in the second week of August.

Before exit, the government could, however, utilise only Rs14.4bn in the first two months i.e. by Aug 31. The pace of expenditure on these schemes did not slow down over the following two months. It reached Rs22.9bn after the first quarter ended on Sept 30 and crossed Rs27.15bn by the end of October, accounting for over 30pc of the annual allocation.

As such, SAP’s actual spending in 5MFY24 consumed almost 33pc share of the total budget allocation for the purpose or about 50pc of the releases authorised by the Planning Division.

No other sector could get closer to the SAP utilisation in proportion to annual allocations.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2023

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