Ongoing financial year 2017-18, which is already little more than four and half months old, is the election year and political parties are fast gearing up their activities holding public meetings in different parts of the country.
The incumbent federal government which is passing through its fifth and final year of its constitutional tenure and as such all its actions, activities and programmes being initiated and implemented during current financial year quite obviously aim at the fast approaching next general elections.
This is amply reflected in its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2017-18 , prepared by the Planning Commission is focused on development with eyes on the elections.
PSDP is considered to be the driver of economic growth besides ensuring the equitable socio-economic development . In addition to the federal PSDP, all provinces, public sector autonomous and semi-autonomous enterprises and local authorities through their development plans and programmes also invest their resources for development in the country.
Investment in the PSDP helps in bridging the infrastructure gap and providing a conducive environment in order to attract both private and foreign investment essentially required for accelerating the economic growth and is formulated through broad-based consultations and active participation and involvement of all stakeholders. This is done with the important objective of undertaking development programmes and projects according to sectoral and regional priorities of the federal and provincial governments in line with the Vision 2025 viz a viz achieving higher, sustained and inclusive growth; reducing poverty; investing in human capital; improving infrastructure; ensuring balanced development, and; achieving food, water and energy security. Ample funds have been allocated in the PSDP for ongoing financial year for programmes and projects aiming at somewhat cherished Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As mentioned above, the PSDP 2017-18 has been formulated with eyes on the general election next year with an highest ever allocation in the history of Pakistan of Rs 1001 billion for accelerating all sorts of developmental activities across the country focusing on ensuring maximum welfare and well-being of the people.
Total number of as many as 1002 projects costing Rs 7.9 trillion have been listed in the PSDP, out of these, 631 projects are on-going involving estimated expenditures of Rs 6.6 trillion on which till end June 2017 as much as Rs 2.2 trillion were reported to have been incurred after which these projects have attained varying stages of their completion and 371 projects involving total estimated cost of Rs 1.3 trillion are new projects showing greater emphasis has as such been laid on ongoing development projects through maximum funding ensuring large number of these are completed within stipulated period without suffering from any cost escalation and delays on any count.
According to the information available from the Planning Commission sources, the highest share of PDSP resources i.e. Rs 577 billion has been earmarked for national level infrastructure since it is the responsibility of the Federal Government following 18th Constitutional Amendment. Within infrastructure, highest priority has been given to transport and communications sector with an overall allocation of Rs 411 billion followed by energy sector with Rs 403 billion including Rs 317 billion self-financed portfolio of WAPDA/PEPCO etc RLING projects which are to be financed outside the budget. For conservation and augmentation of country’s water resources Rs 38 billion have been earmarked while Rs 41 billion have been allocated for physical planning and housing sector.
Though development of social sector after the 18th Constitutional Amendment falls under the domain of the provinces, however, for augmenting the efforts of the provincial governments , an amount of Rs 150 billion has been provided including health and population welfare Rs 56 billion education and higher education Rs 47 billion and Sustained Development Goals (SDGs) Rs 30 billion while other social sectors have been allocated Rs 17 billion for providing social services, quality education and health facilities to the people across the country.
For promotion of technological and scientific research in the country, Rs 9 billion have been provided for science and information technology sector, for supporting reforms, innovations and capacity building , institutional strengthening and programmes for improving security in the country Rs 14 billion have been allocated for governance sector and another amount of Rs 7 billion has been provided to the production sector.
For promoting balanced growth and uplift of Special Areas an allocation of Rs 62 billion has been provided including Rs 25 billion for Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Rs 22 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Rs 15 billion for Gilgit-Baltistan for facilitating them undertaking developmental activities according to sectoral and regional priorities and felt-needs of the people. Another amount of Rs 40 billion has been earmarked for undertaking special projects in the provinces and Special Areas under the Special Federal Development Programme.
For ensuring maximum completion of infrastructure on-going schemes for reconstruction and rehabilitation of October 2005 massive earthquake hit districts of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Rs 7 billion haven allocated for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).
And, for providing relief and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and enhancement of security Rs 90 billion have been earmarked, to meet the financing gap of gas infrastructure Rs 25 billion have been provided for supporting the gas companies Sui Northern Gas Pipeline (SNGP) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and for sharpening the skills of the youth and equipping them with modern technologies and trades for competing for employability within Pakistan and abroad Rs 20 billion have been allocated for the Prime Minister’s Youth Initiative Programme.