PESHAWAR

The Grant Review and Monitoring Committee (GRMC) of the Multi-Donors Trust Fund (MDTF) funded Economic Revitalisation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (ERKF) has declined to review or approve any grant till the implementation of the previous decisions of the panel.

The meeting of the committee held here in the Regional Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA). The eight-member GRMC has one each representative from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA Chambers respectively. The $20 million Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) funded project for the Economic Revitalisation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (ERKF) was initiated under the auspices of the World Bank and its objective was to off-set the adverse effects of the crisis caused by militancy and flood of July 2010 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The GRMC members expressed great concern over the non-payment of grants in the already approved cases on the pretext that the cases are under investigation in National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The issues discussed in GRMC on number of times were conveyed to the provincial government and Provincial Steering Committee, but both these forums failed to address the issues of SMEs despite lapsing more than eight months. All members of  the GRMC unanimously resolved that all the cases presented in the GRMC and all the applications which are in the pipeline should hold in abeyance until and unless the fate of previously approved cases have been decided by the Provincial Steering Committee, headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Under the $14 million SME development component of the Project a share of $9.1 million and $4.9 million were allocated for the rehabilitation of the SMEs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA respectively.

Out of the total amount of $9.1 million, 50 percent grants to the tune of Rs.410 million had already been disbursed. Out of the total 914 approved cases, grants have been disbursed fully are partially in 693 SMEs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while a grant amount of Rs.350 million has been distributed in 353 crisis-hit SMEs of FATA. The disbursement of the grants progressed till July 2014 smoothly, but it was traditional red-tapism and bureaucratic hurdles, which brake the project. Due to unnecessary questions and minor complaints of the violation of manual procedure, the stubborn provincial machinery sent 157 grants cases to National Accountability Bureau (NAB). These cases were also included 118 partially grants disbursed cases. Two different inquiries conducted by the provincial government have cleared the project of allegations.

Similarly, in March this year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), returned the original files of the SMEs allowing the management of the project to continue with disbursement of grants.

However, the Provincial Steering Committee (PSC) headed by Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stopped progress on those cases.

Talking to this scribe, Project Director (PD) Project Management Unit (PMU) ERKF Industries Department, Munir Gul said that the account of the cases sent to NAB is reserved and after clearance it will be paid to the concerned SMEs while action on further cases will be carried out by the GRMC. Decision on new cases will have no effect on the cases referred to NAB. He said that though the project is due to expire on June 30, 2015, but the provincial government is constantly in touch with the World Bank (WB), which had agreed in principal for extending the project for one year.

The Project Director said that after getting clearance from NAB, the GRMC has approved 30 cases and an amount of Rs.20 million has also been paid to them.