LAHORE

The Punjab government, during the first 10 months of current fiscal year, could consume only Rs176 billion of its development budget of Rs345 billion allocated in 2014-15, showing less than 60 per cent utilization of the total ADP.

Punjab Finance Department officials said that the newly constituted provincial energy department could not complete a single project for which a huge amount of Rs22 billion were allocated in the budget 2014-15.

Officials documents show that finance department released only Rs1.45 billion out of total Rs22 billion to Punjab Energy Department but it could consumed only Rs750 million during the first 10 months of current fiscal year. The energy department was allocated Rs22 billion for completion of 12 new and five current projects including distribution of free solar panel among the public, conversion of government offices as well as civil secretariat on solar energy and Lahore Energy Project but none of them has been accomplished so far.

The government’s focus is on projects of roads and communication works, as it started mega project of rural roads development at the end of the current fiscal year which was even not announced in the budget.

The officials said that that ADP will have to revise down the funds allocation as the number of departments did not have capacity to utilize whole amount of allocated development funds. The downward revision is also possible as the federal government revenue collection is falling and it has already revised Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collection target. Similarly, the Punjab government will be unable to meet its provincial revenue generation targets, leading to reduction in the size of its ADP.

It is to be noted that experts have been expressing concern over inability of the government to address power crisis for the last two years and advised it to divert funds from roads to energy to end a roadblock affecting nearly 5 per cent of economic growth.

Dr Hafiz Pasha said in a detailed report that the government should focus on early completion of ongoing hydro and thermal power projects to increase generation. It said the government did not have a concerted plan to address the power crisis and its policy response was focused only on increasing installed capacity instead of removing past mistakes which have brought the sector to this stage.

It said the gaps still existed in policy and governance. Decision-makers did know most factors behind the power crisis, but they have been unable to address them. Even in their priority area of increasing generation, it was not clear where the government was going. Increasing capacity will not work without addressing issues endemic to the sector.

Officials said that the total development budget allocation for health sector in Punjab was Rs23.57 billion while Rs18.97 billion were released in 10 months out of which Rs16.87 billion could be utilized.

The South Punjab Development projects also remained neglected as Rs7.5 billion was total budgetary allocation while just Rs2.82 billion were in 10 months out of which only Rs1.52 billion could be utilized. In the same way, population welfare sector was also neglected as only Rs146 million were released out of total Rs1 billion annual allocation and only Rs25 million was utilized. Likewise, the total allocation for Housing and Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department project was Rs57.52 billion while Rs45 billion were released in 10 months, out of which Rs31.38 billion were utilized.