Slow release of funds mars PSDP projects in Sindh

KARACHI - The slow release of funds by the federal government has caused delay in the completion of development schemes of the Sindh province included in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of current financial year 2008-09, officials told The Nation. The PPP led federal government has allocated Rs18.485 billion for the federally funded development projects/schemes included in the Federal PSDP of this FY08-09. But according to officials of Sindh government, the slow release of funds has been hampering the smooth completion of these schemes. With estimated cost of Rs121.256 billion ongoing projects, at least 56 development projects were continued with the financial assistance of federal government while the majority of these schemes were started a decade ago and work on these schemes still are on-going due to variety of reasons, a senior official said. The major reason behind non-completion of these development schemes was slow release of funds from federal government, he maintained. An official of Sindh government said that out of a huge amount of Rs121.256 billion, a slight amount of Rs39 billion had been utilized on the development schemes of Sindh initiated under PSDP. According to a senior official of Planning and Development of Sindh, under Public Sector Development Programme of current FY09, the federal government has allocated Rs18.485 billion for the development schemes of Sindh. The development schemes involving cost of Rs6 billion have been executed by the federal agencies while remaining projects with cost of Rs12 billion run by Sindh government. Out of total allocation of Rs18 billion, the federal government has released merely Rs2.653 billion till November of current FY09, official disclosed. He has not available the accurate data but he confidently said that the funds released till December were not above Rs3.5 billion. Giving the detail of schemes of Sindh under PSDP, he informed that federal government has allocated Rs6.680 billion for 9 development schemes of water and power sector while out of them Rs1.309 billion has been released till November of this fiscal. The concerned official of Planning and Development Department of Sindh said the provincial government has taken up the issue of slow release of funds with the higher-ups of the federal government but no any significant result has been achieved so far. He further said that rather than ensuring the timely release of PSDP funds, the senior officials of central government has justified the slow and less release of funds due to financial crunch in the country. Official said that despite allocation of funds for Information and Technology, Labour and Manpower, and Forest sectors projects, the amount had not been released for development schemes of above sectors. When contacted by The Nation, former Additional Chief Secretary of Planning and Development Department of Sindh Ghulam Sarwar Khero said Sindh has always remained victim of slow release of the developmental funds. He remarked that with delay in release of funds was causing delay in completion of development schemes and also escalating the cost of the projects.