KP's development spending
DEVELOPMENT spending in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is picking up pace as almost all the line agencies achieved their financial targets at the end of fiscal year 2014-15. The KP government has been facing criticism for not being able to utilise the development funds available to it during the stipulated timeframe over the last two years. However, officials at the planning and development department claim that the trend is changing.
Statistics compiled in July for the financial year 2014-15 on the utilisation of allocated funds reflect a healthy increase in development spending.
The annual development programme (ADP) was originally allocated Rs100.1bn, but was revised to Rs99.281bn at the end of the third quarter of the last financial year. The implementing agencies were able to spend Rs90.076bn, or almost 91pc of the total allocation (including the foreign-funded projects), against 68pc in 2013-14.
Officials say the Provincial Development Working Party has held 28 sessions over the last few months and granted approval to 564 new development projects
A sector-wise review of the spending reflects improvement in the last quarter of FY2014-15, as 19 out of 32 sectors utilised 100pc of their allocated funds. These include roads; health; drinking water and sanitation; elementary, secondary and higher education; water, energy and power; agriculture, district ADPs; buildings; sports and culture; social welfare; housing; information; food; environment; labour and forests.
Similarly, sectors such as home, urban development and transport consumed more than 90pc of their allocations, while law and justice, relief and rehabilitation, regional development and pro-poor sectors spent around 80pc of their allocations.
The officials claim that KP's spending on uplift schemes has been better than those by Sindh and Punjab. They claim that in 2014-15, Sindh utilised 70pc of its development funds of Rs143bn ( or Rs100.37bn). Similarly, Punjab utilised Rs195bn, or 73pc of its Rs268bn in development funds. KP's 91pc utilisation is actually the highest in recent times.
Development projects in the public sector run through various stages: project identification, preparation, formulation, authorisation, and implementation. Bottlenecks at any of these stages lead to delays. A slow pace of utilisation of funds results in project delays and cost overruns.
Now a strategy has been put in place to address the bottlenecks at different phases of the process. The planning and development department has managed to conduct several progress reviews of the development portfolio, where the chief minister and the senior bureaucracy have tackled the blockages.
The Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), headed by the additional chief secretary, scrutinises the technical as well as social utility aspects of the projects. To avoid delays and to speed up the spending, special emphasis is given to expedite approvals. Officials say the PDWP has held 28 sessions over the last few months and granted approval to 564 new development projects.
Project implementation is also often marred by the non-availability of required funds at critical moments. At the end of the third quarter of each financial year, all the implementing agencies are asked to surrender any funds they might not be able to spend.
The funds are then re-appropriated to other projects where implementation is comparatively faster. Officials say funds were diverted to the fast-track projects for early completion. This has not only contributed to a better utilisation of funds, but also helped the completion of 257 projects in the last financial year.