PESHAWAR, Feb 17: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s announced plan to spend Rs97.4 billion on its Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the current financial year is likely to remain unfulfilled because of multiple reasons, officials say.
According to officials, the ADP of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is likely to suffer because of financial shortfalls and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s ban on diversion of development funds.
“The financial releases to the provincial ADP, in view of the situation at present, are likely to remain around Rs10 billion less than the allocated amount at the end of the fiscal,” a financial manager told Dawn.
The shortfall, said another official, was imminent because of the existing deficit the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was experiencing in its revenue receipts from the federal divisible pool.
“The provincial revenue shortfall would recede as the revenue collection at the federal government’s end would pick up momentum in the last six months of the current financial year,” he said, that ability of the province to fulfil its monitory obligations towards ADP financing massively rested on financial disbursements from the federal divisible pool.
The Rs97.4 billion ADP for the current fiscal is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s all time high annual development outlay, showing an increase by over 14.5 per cent over and above the last financial year’s provincial ADP.
As per the official plan announced in June last year, the provincial government would raise Rs74.2 billion from its own resources to fund over 900 development projects. The remaining Rs23 billion would come from the government’s foreign development partners in the form of loans and grants.
According to a senior finance manager, financial disbursements to development projects have not been in line with the government’s action plan during the first six months of the current fiscal.
“It is most likely that the ADP would get far less than what the government had endeavoured to spend on the development works in the financial year 2012-13,” he said.
Reduction in the financial disbursements was not the only worry for the development planners. They said that ADP was likely to experience difficulties owing to ECP’s instruction, prohibiting the diversion of funds already allocated to the projects.
This view was also confirmed by the government’s development partners from the private sector.
“We were expecting an extension of one of our development projects, but got caught in the fallout of this (ECP’s ban) decision,” said a representative of Sarhad Rural Support Programme, a private sector development sector partner of the government. It is assisting the government in implementing a large poverty alleviation programme in four districts of the province.
“This decision has understandably hurt many ongoing projects too,” said the SRSP representative on the understanding of maintaining anonymity. He, however, added that there were reports of large-scale diversion of public funds to projects, which had high political mileage.
An official said that government carried out ADP’s review on quarterly basis to monitor the pace of development activities and expenditure under various sectors.
After the midterm review, he added, the government usually made changes to the expenditure plan, diverting funds from the slow-paced projects to the ones that were in need of more money.
“The re-appropriation of funds has been in practice since long and is considered a way out to effectively utilise the available financial resources, but this year the situation seems to be different as ECP has imposed restrictions on the diversion of funds,” said the official.
Federal government had moved ECP against its ban, imposed on January 22 last, on fresh recruitments in the federal and provincial public sector entities and against the restrictions on the diversion of funds already allocated for development projects.
However, ECP rejected the government’s plea terming its instructions in accordance to its constitutional authority to hold free and fair elections.
A provincial development planner told Dawn by telephone that ECP member from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had mentioned in the verdict that the ban on diversion of KP uplift spending to be short of target funds should not be taken as an obstacle as “ECP is dynamically open to reasons.”
He, however, said the pace of development works, which usually picked up momentum in the last four five months of the financial year, was set to slow down even if ECP showed dynamism.
“I think we might end up with a major chunk of unutilised money at the end of the fiscal,” said the official.
In this situation, said a private sector development planner, even internationally funded projects, too, were experiencing a slowdown. Though those projects did not come under the ECP ban, the donor agencies were careful, he added.
They did not want to hurt local sensibilities worth any intervention which might benefit indirectly any of the contesting parties, said the planner in an email response to Dawn’s query.