The disbursement of developmental funds is one aspect of governance that looks to be predicated on personal opinion more than actual allocation numbers, and this year is no different. To be sure, the government should be commended this year for actually looking to meet its target in releasing funds for the first quarter of the year. But this does not seem to be based on the need to disburse 20 percent of the funds allocated in the first and second quarters each, followed by 30 percent each in the third and fourth. Instead, some sectors received an amount close to the stipulated 20 percent, while others received much less.

The biggest chunk of funds in this quarter is quite clearly the ones released for security enhancement; with Rs27 billion out of a total allocation of 32 billion already released, the government must be careful. Overspending at a time when the country is struggling to make ends meet might lead to an even greater revenue shortage going forward. Funds in most other categories have not exceeded the 19-20 percent mark, which means that the government is not crippling its own projects by holding on to funds, and not releasing a windfall as has been common practice in the past – the latter of which usually leads to more waste than expected. The problem though, still lies in the projects that are ignored in this release of funds. The Prime Minister’s Youth programme, the Clean Green Movement, the Gas Infrastructure Project and most importantly, the special development programme for temporarily displaced persons are all projects that have been completely ignored by the finance ministry. All projects deserve equal attention and the government must look to rectify this.

Due to a shortage of funds, historically, the government of Pakistan has released funds intermittently and without a clear structure of equal payments. What this does is create backlogs and open up avenues for corruption. Each time a windfall of funds comes after a pause of six months or more, those that have been denied their wages or have not been paid on time have greater impetus to pocket funds meant for development, not to mention the fact that a bigger slice of the funds is easy to steal from.

Disbursement of funds however, is just one of the first few steps in initiating and completing developmental projects effectively. It is hoped that the ruling party improves state scrutiny over the use of these of these funds in its own term as well, as it has been doing for previous governments.