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Thursday Mar 05 2020
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Web Desk

Utilisation of development budget has reached six-year high, says Asad Umar

By
Web Desk
Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Utilisation of development budget has reached the six-year high level of 39 percent in the first eight months of the current fiscal year of 2019/20, the planning minister said on Wednesday.

Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said public sector development program (PSDP) witnessed a record utilisation of 39 percent in the first eight months of the current fiscal year.

“This is the highest recorded utilisation of development budget for the past six years,” Umar said in a statement, according to a report in The News. “Earlier, the maximum utilisation of PSDP was witnessed in FY2014/15 when it touched 32 percent.” 

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Though the planning minister didn’t reveal the total disbursal out of the allocated development spending for the current fiscal year, he said more than 200 projects under the PSDP are expected to be completed in the current fiscal year. 

The government allocated Rs701 billion under the PSDP of 2019/20, as opposed to Rs1.030 trillion set as federal PSDP for the previous fiscal year. The latest official data showed that the government has so far released around Rs465 billion, including Rs93 billion foreign aids, for various ongoing and development projects under PSDP.

Last year, the government, however, decided to release half of the funds earmarked under the public sector development program in the first half of a fiscal year, in a bid to speed up uplift process, following the World Bank’s call for proper utilisation of the development budget.

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The World Bank had raised concerns over the performance of local consultants, terming it as a reason behind delayed execution of development projects.

Traditionally, 40 percent of PSDP funds are released during the first two quarters. Under the new mechanism, now half of the funds are available for the first two quarters. The quarter-wise releases are now 20, 30, 30, and 20 percent.

Officials said the steps are aimed at easing funds flow and to remove bottlenecks and boost economic development. The planning minister said up to 99 percent of Peshawar-Karachi motorway project (Sukkur-Multan section) has been completed, and this year Rs17.7 billion was spent on the project. 

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The government allocated five billion rupees to Faisalabad-Khanewal road project, which witnessed 98 percent of physical progress. Umar said Rs2.5 billion were spent under the “national program for improvement of watercourses in Pakistan-phase-II” during the first eight months of the current fiscal year. This translated into a 50 percent utilisation rate.

“Work on Mohmand dam hydropower project has also been initiated, and Rs2.8 billion has already been spent on the project,” he added. “For the construction of small dams in Khuzdar, Balochistan, Rs125 million has been utilised.”

Originally published in The News