ISLAMABAD: Millions of rupees in federal funding to build Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s only children’s hospital have been withheld by the provincial government, officials said today.

The federal finance division has given over 80 million rupees to the KP government for the Khyber Institute of Child Health and Children’s Hospital in the last six months but none of the money has yet been spent on construction. The hospital has failed to meet the earlier deadline of completion in 2013 and is now due to open in June 2017, so parents would not have to take their children to Islamabad, Rawalpindi or Lahore for treatment.

The hospital is just one of 46 finance department-backed projects throughout Pakistan whose funds have been effectively withheld by provincial government officials. They include adult hospitals, schools, water supply and road projects. In some cases provincial officials have failed to request funds already approved by the finance division.

According to the Planning Commission only 26 million of 526 million rupees handed over for schools, hospitals and other development projects in the first quarter of 2015-16 has actually reached them.

Last month the commission also criticized the finance division for delays in passing on funds to provincial governments – only 5.75 per cent of the annual allocation of 9.4 billion  had been passed on in the first quarter. 

In a letter written to the provincial governments, the finance division has demanded an explanation for the “sluggish demand and utilization for allocated funding for Public Sector Development Projects (PSDP),” official sources told The Nation today.

Even today four kids from KP were brought to National Institute of Heart Diseases (NIHD) because of absence of children hospital in KP.

A father of baby girl ,who is under treatment for Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) in NIHD,  said  that “I took my four months old daughter to the Leady Reading Hospital Peshawar but after seeing what was happening to the other kids I brought her to Rawalpindi. In absence of Children hospital people don’t have the option but to take their kids to the general hospital which lacks child care facilities, he said.“I have sold my land for the treatment of my kid,” he said. There was another guy from Dera Ismail Khan who has sold his truck for the treatment of his 13 years old son, in the same hospital.

The release of funds by the finance division improved slightly in the second quarter but is still below 20 per cent of the annual allocation – 20 per cent below expected. Twenty percent of PSDP should be released in each of the first two quarters  followed by two allocations of 30 per cent.

A total of Rs 1.7 billion of 9.4 billion was released by the end of the second quarter, the official said.

Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is one of the worst performers, officials said. It has allocated only spent 17 per cent of funds awarded for 170 federal-backed projects in the first six months.

The slow release and utilization of funds during first quarter has hampered work on development schemes and will ultimately increase the cost of these projects.

The finance division believes the provinces are are to blame for not demanding the developmental funds because without their request the money cannot be transferred.

Advisor the Sindh Chief Minister, Mula Bukhsh Chandio, however rejected the allegations of slow demand of PSDP funds and claimed the federal government is obstructing the release of funds to the province.