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SAHIWAL, May 25: A pre-budget seminar was organized to seek inputs from union council members and civil society representatives in prioritizing social sectors for the allocation of funds for the next year budget.

The district government has recently joined the “Pakistan Districts That Work" (DTW) club to seek technical assistance for making better policies on education, health, social welfare and finance sector.

Criticizing the district government for allocating meager funds for the development of social sectors in the past, union council nazims and civil society representatives sought more budget allocations to bridge a huge gap between development and non-development expenditures.

A majority of participants underlined the need to allocate at least 15 to 20 per cent funds for the development sector while in the past two years only nine per cent funds could be set aside in the district.

EDO (Finance) Habib Jillani said the district government had allocated Rs2.12 billion and Rs2.48 billion in the budgets for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08, respectively.

He said the district government had allocated 92 per cent and 88 per cent funds for the non-development sector in the budgets of two previous years. Of them 79 per cent and 78 per cent allocated funds were spent only on the staff salary during the respective years.

The district government had set aside a sum of Rs40 million (two per cent) and Rs70 million (three per cent) for the citizen community boards in these two years.

If these budget allocations are deducted from development expenditures, since CCBs had done little for the public welfare and were mostly running for profit motives, the proportion of uplift expenditures will remain only six per cent in 2006-07 and nine per cent in 2007-08.

This is in clear violation of the set principles where almost 15 to 20 per cent of any budget must be spent on the social sector.

Several UC nazims criticized the district government for not providing funds even for those social sector projects the allocations of which were made in the previous two budgets.

The district officials assured participants of the seminar that the past mistakes would not be repeated, but no one seemed to be ready to believe their ‘claims’.

Requesting anonymity, a UC nazim said: “All the social sector budget has been allocated for strengthening political standings”.

“Although women have been given 33 per cent participation in the political set up, we are not allocated the budget in the same proportion for gender development in any sector", said lady councillor Farzana Abbas.

Speaking on the occasion, DCO Muhammad Khan Khichi assured the participants that priorities would be given to develop most vulnerable sectors of society like gender and laborers while making the next budget.

Speaking on the occasion, District Nazim Rai Hasan Nawaz, UC nazims Sajid Naeem, Shahid Ali, Zafer Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed appealed to district government functionaries to allocate funds in the next budget for the completion of on-going projects.