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ISLAMABAD, June 1: The next year’s Rs873 billion development programme includes a federal share of Rs360 billion, including provincial annual development allocation of Rs513 billion, reflecting an overall increase of Rs143 billion, clearly speaking government’s political exigency to satisfy the electorate before going for general elections late this year or early next year.

The ruling Pakistan People’s Party and its coalition partners in Parliament have been persistently demanding of the Prime Minister Gilani to provide them maximum funds for development in the next fiscal budget to enable them to execute new projects to win over the voters in the next polls. Even the JUI (F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman in his latest meeting with the PM demanded completion of some mega projects in his constituency.

The government has planned to add another ambitious allocation of Rs150 billion in the PSDP which would also include a foreign exchange component of Rs100 billion for undertaking those projects which would come in the way during the election campaign, official sources revealed.

Presenting the next year’s PSDP, Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said: “This year the National Economic Council has approved ADP from Rs730 billion, reflecting an increase of Rs120 billion (25pc) from last year.

The federal PSDP for the next financial year, he said, is Rs360 billion, representing an increase of Rs60 billion, about 20 per cent higher than current year’s allocation of Rs300 billion while provincial development programme for next year is about 19.3 per cent higher than current year’s Rs430 billion.

‘This year the entire Rs300bn was released and utilised in the federal PSDP and over 200 projects were completed at the federal level over the year, including projects like Chashma Nuclear, Khan Khawar Hydro, Rainee Canal Phase-I and roads etc.,” said the minister.

The finance minister further stated that the development strategy is not to spread available resources too thinly across numerous projects but to concentrate on completion of the projects to deliver benefits to the public at the earliest.

Giving details of the PSDP, the minister stated that out of the total federal PSDP outlay of Rs360 billion; the government has allocated Rs346 billion (96pc) to ongoing schemes, Rs69 billion for power sector and Rs115 billion additional federal entities, like Wapda and electric companies.

Water sector has been allocated Rs48 billion, Rs44 billion have been set aside for social sector, Rs37 billion for special areas, including Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK, Rs84 billion for Transport and Communications sector, including Rs51 billion for NHA and Rs23 billion for railways. Besides Rs16 billion have been allocated for Higher Education Commission.

The limit for provincial governments has been increased to approve and execute shared projects with the federal government from Rs5 billion to Rs10 billion and empower the provincial governments to approve any projects that may involve 100 per cent provincial financing without recourse to any federal approval.

The government seems to be serious in reducing administrative expenditures substantially in the next budget to spare maximum funds for development which reflects in reduced allocations for the Cabinet Division Rs21.77 billion as against Rs25.36 billion, CDA Rs791.5 million as against current year’s 974.0 million, Defence division Rs3.20 billion against Rs3.84 billion, Finance division Rs13.61 billion against current year’s Rs13.67 billion. Ports and Shipping Division would get only Rs325 million next year as against Rs744 million in the current year.

The sectors which would receive more funds than the current year include Planning and Development Division Rs37.84 billion against Rs25.55 billion, Water and Power Division Rs47.19 billion as against Rs36.13 billion and National Highways Authority Rs.50.72 billion as against Rs38.80 billion.