Federal government’s development performance is as important as is its political performance, as by undertaking developmental activities in different sectors better and improved services and facilities are provided to the people throughout the country.

Political performance of the federal government is discussed and talked about almost daily and it is both appreciated as well as criticized. But very seldom there is mention of what the government is spending for socio-economic uplift of the people through investment, as per allocation and available resources, in different sectors.

Here is a review of the development performance of the federal government during the financial year 2016-17, the fourth year in power of the incumbent government, according to the information which has now become available to this scribe through official sources.

Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), as the developmental activities of the federal government are known, is the driver of economic growth. Besides ensuring the equitable socio-economic development throughout the country on national level, the Federal PSDP, provinces, public sector enterprises and local authorities also invest their resources for development within their given framework and jurisdictions.

Investment by the government in PSDP helps in bridging the infrastructure gap and thus providing a conducive environment to attract private and foreign investment essentially required for the economic growth. PSDP, for the kind information of the readers, is

formulated through broad-based extensive consultations and active investment of stakeholders with the prime objective of undertaking development programmes and projects according to sector-wise and regional priorities in line with Vision 2026 and keeping in view the felt-needs of the people.

The size of the PSDP 2016-16 after approval by the National Economic Council (NEC), the highest economic related decision making body of the country which meets usually once in a year under the chairmanship of the prime minister, was at Rs 1675 billion including federal component of Rs 800 billion and for financing of the Annual Development Programmes (ADPs) of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan at Rs 875 billion. In terms of foreign assistance, the PSDP included Rs 229 billion and provincial ADPs Rs 86 billion. However, as per revised estimates the allocation for PSDP was put at Rs 715 billion and that of the provincial ADPs Rs 824 billion showing reduction of Rs 136 billion.

While formulating the PSDP under review here, priority was given to ongoing projects financed with firm commitment of foreign assistance by donor countries, agencies and organizations. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, higher education and special areas related projects. It also catered for programmes in health and population welfare sectors in accordance with the decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) taken some years back in April 2011.

Sector-wise, an amount of Rs 473 billion, as high as 72 per cent of total PSDP outlay of Rs 655 billion was allocated for infrastructure sector projects. This indicates the federal government’s priority for developing infrastructure facilities across the country.

Within infrastructure sector, power sector got investment of Rs 405 billion including Rs 155 billion from budgetary sources and Rs 250 billion from WAPDA/GENCO’s own resources, again reflecting the government’s determined efforts to overcome and eliminate lingering menace of electricity load shedding at the earliest, transport and communication sector received Rs 260 billion followed by water sector Rs 33 billion and physical planning and housing sector Rs 18 billion. Besides, a sum of Rs 25 billion was also allocated separately for Gas Infrastructure Development Fund.

The government is also attaching due importance to the development of social sector as well. A sum of Rs 89 billion, 14 per cent of the overall PSDP, was as such allocated for social sector which included Rs 32 billion for health and population welfare, Rs 33 billion for education and higher education, Rs 20 billion for the Prime Minister’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme and Rs 4 billion for other sectors within the framework of social sector.

An expenditure was expected to have been incurred on the development of science and technology sector projects, Rs 8 billion for improving governance at all levels and Rs 4 billion for production sector during financial year 2016-17 under review here. In addition, Rs 20 billion were earmarked for the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme which aims at falicitating the young people to equip them with capabilities to shoulder leadership responsibilities tomorrow.

Development of special areas i,e, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir is quite obviously responsibility of the federal government and for which Rs 42 billion were provided in the PSDP for formulation of the respective Annual Development Programmes (ADPs) according to their sectoral and regional priorities in accordance of the felt-needs of the people, while Rs7 billion were allocated for completing remaining works initiated by Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) in the massively October 2005 eearthquake hit areas of Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah. Additionally, an amount of Rs 100 billion was earmarked for undertaking special development programme for Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) in the terrorism and extremism hit FATA areas and Security Enhancement.

For ensuring proper utilsation of allocated funds and timely completion of the development projects launched and under implementation by the executing agencies in different parts of the country, the Ministry of Planning, Development Reform quite appreciably undertook three quarterly reviews of PSPD 2016-17 with a view to assess physical and financial progress and make essentially required adjustments in the allocations so that more funds are diverted from somewhat slow moving projects to fast moving important projects from anticipated savings from the development projects somehow lagging behind their schedules on various counts.

During these quarterly review meetings, the official sources maintained, the executing agencies were duly asked to ensure completion of as many ongoing development projects as possible during financial year 2016-17.

After undertaking periodic assessment and reviews, Rs 53 billion were re-appropriated to 101 ongoing development projects while remaining within the overall size of the PSDP of the last financial year. During the reviews, the Ministries and Divisions of the Federal Government were also asked to ensure timely submission of PC-1s of all unapproved projects to the Planning Commission so that allocated funds can be used efficiently and properly.

Due to these steps taken periodically for accelerating pace of implementation of development projects in all sectors, according to a rather cautious and estimate, more than 145 involving total estimated cost of Rs 68 billion were most likely to have been completed by the end of financial year at the end of June 2017. The number of expectedly completed development projects, in all fairness, should have been more than 145 and maximum allocated funds should have been utilized for speeding up completion of large number of under-implementation projects.

Details about these project projects in various sectors were not immediately available from the official quarters concerned. However, this is to stress the dire need for accelerating pace of utilization of allocated funds under the PSDP by the executing agencies for ensuring completion of maximum number of ongoing projects within the stipulated period so that the fruits of massive developmental activities undertaken by the federal government reach tall people across Pakistan at the earliest.

 

The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.

zahidriffat@gmail.com