KARACHI - The provincial government on Monday announced an increase of Rs49 billion in the allocation for infrastructure development in the fiscal year 2017-18 despite its failure to spend more than 50 percent of its development budget in the first 10 months of last fiscal year.

The development budget was increased from Rs225 billion in the outgoing year to Rs274 billion for the upcoming year. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah outlaid his strategy to spend the development budget by releasing allocated funds in one go for the schemes to be completed in the current financial year. The funds allocated for the ongoing schemes will be released in two equal instalments. Full amount will be released for 502 schemes to be completed in the current fiscal year, including 355 fast-track schemes.

The chief minister vowed to spend 88 percent of the development budget for the outgoing year by the year end, claiming that it was 20 percent higher than the last fiscal year. This reflects government’s growing capacity and rational financial management, he said.

According to the Annual Development Plan 2017-18, the provincial government has allocated an amount of Rs24 billion for development in the education sector, including Rs14.154 billion for school education, Rs5 billion for college education, Rs213 million for special education and Rs3.6 billion for universities and boards.  An amount of Rs3.005 billion was allocated for the energy sector development, including schemes for electrification of villages and goths and installation of solar technology at primary health facilities.

The provincial government earmarked Rs18.819 billion for health infrastructure, including Rs2.844 billion for teaching hospitals, Rs1.316 billion for medical education and Rs4.010 billion for preventive programmes.

The provincial government allocated an amount of Rs2,445 million for development projects of the home department, including Rs1,476.198 million for the police department and Rs968.802 million for the prison department. The industrial sector, which is the backbone of the national and provincial economy, was allocated Rs2,745 million, including Rs139.475 million for the Sindh Small Industries Corporation and Rs2,542.828 for the SITE limited.

The provincial government also allocated Rs1,380 million for the information, science and technology department, including an ongoing project of Installation of Security Surveillance Cameras at Worship Places of Minorities with an amount of Rs200 million. This project was also allocated a considerable amount in the previous year. In the first 10 months, despite importance of this project, the government was unable to spend even 10 percent of the allocated amount.

At least Rs50 million were allocated for the biometric system for government departments of Sindh, Rs14 million for capacity building of employees of the IT Department of the Sindh Secretariat through IBA Karachi and Rs50 million for the wifi system at the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park, Clifton.  The most hyped provincial government projects were allocated Rs12 billion. They include a road network in the city, a flyover at Lee Market and laying a water pipeline to improve water supply to Baldia Town.

Two other projects of Karcahi, S-III sewerage project and K-IV water project, were also included in the development budget. An amount of Rs224.196 was allocated for the Greater Karachi Sewerage Plan, a programme that was initiated in 2007 and will be completed by the next fiscal year. Another key project that was projected to be completed by the next fiscal year is K-IV Bulk Water Supply Scheme, which was allocated an amount of Rs6430.5 million for the next fiscal year.

The provincial government had also allocated an amount of Rs1720 million for minorities’ affairs, including renovation, repair of religious places across the province and construction of new minority religious places.

The provincial assembly was allocated Rs2,280 million for construction of residences for parliamentarians, with an amount of Rs2,000 million, speaker’s house with an allocation of Rs112.487 million and completion of a new assembly building with Rs167.513 million.  At least Rs290 million were allocated for social welfare development projects; Darul Atfal for street children and rehabilitation centres for handicapped children, senior citizens and drug addicts.  The provincial government allocated an amount of Rs440.387 million for youth affairs; establishment of youth centres across the province and skill development programmes for them.

The transport sector was allocated an amount of Rs3,195 million for construction of bus terminals, rehabilitation for drivers’ training schools, construction of BRTS Orange Line, Blue Line and Red Line BRTS, transport infrastructure projects in Karachi and revival of the Karachi Circular Railway project. At least 25 diesel busses for Larkana intercity bus project were also included in the ADP.

Women’s development was allocated Rs426 million for implementation of gender reforms action plan, establishment of women complaint cells and women’s development complex in Karachi.