KARACHI -  The Sindh government is all set to announce new development projects for the next fiscal year in the next couple of days, but unfortunately various departments of the provincial government have failed to utilise the funds available to them in the ongoing fiscal year.

According to details of public sector development programmes available with The Nation, the provincial government could not spend over 50 percent of its budget on the existing development schemes despite tall claims by the incumbent chief minister, who had said at his post-budget press conference last year that he would ensure proper utilisation of funds.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had said at the last post-budget press conference that the ongoing development projects would be released their entire allocated amount within the first quarter. However, his claims once again failed to materialise on the ground.

Although the overall releases for the ongoing development projects have exceeded the set limit of Rs119.146 million by a million, there are 31 of 49 provincial department heads that have not been released the entire allocated amount despite passage of more than three quarters of the current fiscal year.

The expenditure position is also disturbing as 35 percent of the allocated amount has yet to be released. There is a far worse situation in the new development initiatives launched in 2016-17 as just 14 percent of the total allocated amount was spent on the projects with only two months left in completion of the fiscal year.

As many as 25 of 49 provincial department heads were unable to spend even a single penny on the development projects in their departments despite release of amount to majority of them.

KARACHI DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

The Karachi Development Project, which is most hyped project of the Sindh government being monitored by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, was also suffering due to a lack of funds.

The project was allocated an amount of Rs10 billion for the fiscal year and all projects were time-lined to be completed in the current fiscal year. After passage of 10 months, the project was released an amount of Rs7171.248 million. Only 36 percent of the allocated amount, which is Rs3609.717 million, was spent on the project.

K-IV BULK WATER SUPPLY PROJECT

Another important provincial government development initiative is the K-IV Bulk Water Supply project. The provincial government has been taking credit for initiating this project in order to meet water needs of the city. However, this project was released 50 percent of the allocated amount (Rs3,000 million), but its expenditure was miserably low with only 11 percent (Rs333.947) spent in 10 months.

HEALTH AND EDUCATION SECTORs

The provincial government had laid emphasis on improving health and education sector in the province in the budget. However, the provincial government took no interest in spending on development projects in health and education.

According to the available data, Rs17,233 million was allocated for the education sector development in fiscal year 2016-17. However, only 31 percent (Rs5,342.759 million) of the allocated amount was utilised for the development schemes in 10 months.

The situation in the health department is even worst as only 24.4 percent of the amount (Rs3,412.546 million) was utilised from the allocated amount of Rs14,000 million.

According to a report, no money was spent on 346 schemes in education and health sectors in the first three quarters of the fiscal year.

There are 396 ongoing development schemes in the education department that involve construction of schools and colleges and renovation of buildings and provision of missing facilities, but not a single penny has been spent on 270 of these schemes this year so far.

The government has allocated Rs650 million for preschool education centres in all divisions of Sindh. The finance department released Rs340 million, but there is 0% spending on these schemes.

ENERGY SECTOR

The energy sector is one of the sectors, which the provincial government says is working to improve. It had even blamed the federal government for not honouring its commitments with regard to energy needs of the province. However, the provincial government spent only 18.9 percent of the allocated amount on energy projects in 10 months. The government allocated Rs6,335 million for electrification of villages, Goths, basic health units and other projects and released Rs1,538.645 for the projects. Due to a lack of interest by the provincial authorities, only Rs1,200 million were spent.

HIGH EXPENDITURE ON PROVINCIAL ELITE HIERARCHY PROJECTS

Contrary to public welfare projects, which suffered due to low spending in the fiscal year, the projects for the elite hierarchy of the province were released more amounts than the allocation.

The spending on the Chief Minster’s Secretariat has crossed five times the allocated amount, while the overall allocation has exceeded 16 percent of the allocated amount. This shows how keen the rulers are on improvement in their living standards.

According to a report, Rs41.945 million was allocated for Chief Minister’s Secretariat in the fiscal year 2016-17 for ongoing projects. An amount of Rs210.712 million, which is five times more than the allocated amount, was released and Rs152.079 million was spent on these projects.

Overall, Rs300 million was earmarked for Chief Minister’s Secretariat in 2016-17 and Rs348.246 million was released.

Similarly, Rs951.720 million was earmarked for the Sindh Assembly’s ongoing projects in 2016-17, but contrary to public welfare projects the releases stood at Rs1451.720 in 10 months and are likely to rise. An amount of Rs1229.968 million was spent on ongoing projects from this released amount.

The overall expenditure against allocation was also witnessed at 115.5 percent with Rs1065 million allocated and Rs1451.720 million released and Rs1229.968 spent under the provincial assembly head.

Commenting on this, the spokesman for the Chief Minister’s House said that he could not refute that the allocated amount was not spent. However, he said that budget figures could go up to 65 percent expenditure at the end of the fiscal year, as still there were two more months to go.

He said there are several other related revenue expenditures that are later added to development budget expenditures. The spokesman said that the chief minister was himself monitoring the development projects of different districts and utilisation of the funds could only be possible if the pace of development work is fast.

Commenting on low expenditure on the Karachi Development Package, he said that development work up to 60 percent had been completed and low expenditure was due to delay in payments. “The amount will only be paid to the contractors when they complete work,” he said.

 

ABDULLAH ZAFAR