ISLAMABAD: Hinting at calling the 13th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) of the CPEC to meet on May 22-23, the government is expected to increase by over a quarter the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the next fiscal year, notwithstanding struggling development spending this year amid IMF-backed fiscal consolidation and stabilisation outlook.

Informed sources told Dawn that the Ministry of Planning and Development is targeting Rs1.2 trillion worth of PSDP for the next fiscal year, almost 27pc higher than the Rs940bn allocation during the current fiscal year. The actual development spending in first nine months of current year has hardly reached Rs270bn, even lower than last fiscal year’s Rs293bn in comparable period.

The government is seeking another bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), believed to be a continuation of the just concluded fiscal and monetary tightening, to deal with serious fiscal and economic challenges. The Ministry of Finance has already clarified that the government would put all efforts “into enhancing revenue collection, controlling expenditures, and maintaining fiscal discipline” to deal with the challenges.

At the same time, the MoF also concedes that “growing pressure on expenditures due to higher markup payments present significant challenges for fiscal management”. For a stabilisation path, it is imperative to ensure fiscal consolidation and lay the foundation for progressing towards higher and sustainable economic growth. Therefore, the government is stringently focusing on fiscal consolidation measures to ensure fiscal discipline, said the finance ministry.

13th joint meeting on CPEC likely on 22nd

A meeting presided over by Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday also reviewed the Federal Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy for 2023-28 to support the public sector development programmes going forward owing to budgetary constraints.

Besides the ministers for petroleum and maritime affairs, members of the Planning Commission, representatives of the Public Private Partnership Authority (P3A) and consultants from the Asian Development Bank attended as part of a broader effort to enhance the implementation mechanism and effectiveness of the PPP policy and future projects as directed by the prime minister.

It was “unanimously agreed that the committee will continue discussions next week and further refine the policy framework, thereby solidifying the nation’s path towards sustainable development and prosperity”, a statement said.

The minister also reviewed the projects of Energy, Infrastructure, Communication, Board of Investment, Science and Technology, Information Technology and Ministry of Water Resources for taking them to the 13th JCC meeting of the CPEC. The Chinese desired that all matters be discussed and settled at the JCC level before the finalisation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing. The sources said that subject to confirmation of the JCC meeting on May 22-23, the PM’s China visit could be arranged in the first week of June.

Mr Iqbal directed all the ministries to complete their homework immediately and make a comprehensive agenda for the 13th JCC“.

The minister also directed all provincial and federal ministries to give three important plans for the Prime Minister’s visit to China and finalise a regular business plan for New Gwadar International Airport.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

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