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KARACHI, May 8: The federal government is indicating to launch a huge development programme of about Rs500 billion during next fiscal 2007-08 which is an election year.

It will be almost one-third of about Rs1.5 trillion proposed budget of 2007-08, and about 45 per cent more than the public sector development programme of Rs270 billion of the current fiscal year 2006-07.

“The launching of this public sector development programme for next fiscal year, sometimes in the first or second week of June, will mark commencement of election campaign by the government,’’ a well-placed source in the Sindh government disclosed.

In this election campaign, the government will offer to public Rozgar scheme, being implemented by the National Bank of Pakistan, functioning of the Gawadar Port in Balochistan, improvement in government revenue collection to more than Rs835 billion in the current fiscal year which is expected to go beyond one trillion rupees in the next fiscal year, plus a few cosmetic development schemes in the election campaign.

Frequent power breakdowns and a virtual blackout in every city and village of the country after sunset at the end of a seven-year rule of the present government is something that haunts everyone, from top to low level functionary, in the present setup.The government faces a tough job to explain the yawning trade gap of more than $14 billion in the current fiscal year.

In last three years, the country suffered more than $35 billion trade imbalance or Rs1.2 trillion trade losses.

Unemployment, uncontrollable price-spiral, deteriorating hygienic conditions that have caused about two dozen deaths from cholera just in one week of summer and growing lawlessness that has made street crimes the most thriving and flourishing trade and industry in cities, like Karachi and Lahore, are the issues that government will face in the next election campaign.

Outlines of the Rs500 billion, plus public sector development programme being proposed for 2007-08, will be presented in the two days session of Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) scheduled on May 21 and May 22 in Islamabad,’’ a well-placed source disclosed who indicated that the National Economic Council (NEC) may hold its annual session sometimes in last week of the current month as 2007-08 budget is due sometimes in second week of June.

The NEC was scheduled to hold a mid-term economic performance review of 2006-07 on March 27 initially which was later put off for first week of April and it was finally called off because the government was bogged down under the situation arising out from the massive public and legal community outcry against maltreatment to Chief Justice of the country and the Lal Masjid issue.

Official documents reveal that the total development outlay for 2006-07 amounted to Rs385bn which included Rs115bn for the provincial annual development programme and Rs270bn federal development programme.

The federal PDSP showed an operational shortfall of Rs20 billion. From Rs250 billion, the government released Rs99 billion during July to December 2006.

From this released amount of Rs99 billion, various agencies are said to have utilised Rs87.4bn in first half of the current fiscal year.

The government’s claim is that it has steadily been increasing size of public sector development programme and also improving the utilisation capacities of government agencies every year.