ISLAMABAD  -   The incumbent government has put the road infrastructure projects on backburner as there is no budget released for 46 schemes of the National Highway Authority under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP).

According to latest update of PSDP releases as of 5th October 2018 shared by the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms, there is no release for NHA against its ongoing and new schemes from already allocated Rs185.197 billion budget for year 2018-19.     

The previous government while preparing the budget for financial year 2018-19 had allocated Rs301.6bn for NHA to finance its 123 schemes including 43 ongoing and 78 new projects.

However, the incumbent government after assuming the power had decided to revise the budget 2018-19 and tabled a supplementary finance bill in the National Assembly, reducing the overall PSDP allocations whereas the allocation for NHA was also reduced to Rs185.197bn, which is 61 percent of the original allocation made by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz government.  

In revised PSDP 2018-19, the government has not only excluded a number of projects of NHA but also decreased the amount previously allocated in the budget for most of the projects.  A total of 83 project of NHA were excluded in revised PSDP, which includes 7 ongoing and 76 new schemes. The incumbent govt has again included 4 out of total 7 ongoing schemes as new schemes in revised PSDP besides including 2 entirely new projects in new schemes.   

However, ignoring NHA’s projects in PSDP releases at a time when the Minister of State for Communication Murad Saeed is already referring those projects, which faced delays in previous governments for special audit is not only unjustified but a diversion from their own minister’s stance in this regard.

The sources inside the authority were of the view that the unavailability of funds will affect the progress of ongoing schemes and it is possible that several projects missed their completion deadlines. While replying to a question regarding said possible delay of the ongoing schemes due to unavailability of funds, the Chairman NHA Jawwad Rafique Malik has expressed his ignorance about fresh PSDP releases.

“I am not in a position to comment without reviewing the latest PSDP releases for NHA as the same has not been conveyed to me so far”, he excused.

As per a set mechanism of the Planning Commission of Pakistan for the release of funds, 20 per cent of funds are released in first quarter (July- September), 20 per cent in second quarter (October-December), 25% third quarter (January-March) and 35 per cent in fourth quarter (April-June) in each financial year.

The ongoing projects which may face delays due to non-availability of funds includes Construction of Burhan-Havelian Expressway (E-35) 29.1 Km, Construction of Infrastructure and Allied works for Metro Bus Services Peshawar morr - New Islamabad International Airport (Length 25.6 km), Construction of Motorway from Burhan - Hakla on M-I to Dera Ismail Khan, Construction of Roads Network for New Islamabad International Airport Main Link, Thalian Link & Periphery Road (Length 26km), Karachi-Hyderabad M-9 (134.5 Km), Lahore-Multan Motorway (M-3 section) of Karachi - Lahore Motorway, Lowari Road Tunnel & Access Roads Project, Peshawar Northern Bypass, Dualization of Rawalpindi-Kahuta Road(28.4 km) including 4 lane bridge over Sihala Railway Pass,Sihala Bypass & Kahuta Bypass, Widening and Strengthening of National Highway N-70 (Rakhi Gajj-Bewata) and many others

Meanwhile, during a visit to Hakla D.I Khan Section of PEC on Friday, the Minister of State for Communication Murad Saeed vowed to complete the ongoing projects particularly CPEC schemes on priority bases and said zero-tolerance against encroachers on the motorways and highways. The minister during his visit also observed anti-encroachment operation at Tarnol.