School Specific Budget continues to lapse

LARKANA: The annual School Specific Budget (SSB) allocated for procurement of instructional, library and laboratory material, stationary, sports items, curricular activities, furniture and fixture continue to lapse due to its non-utilization rendering the schools almost handicapped.

Rs15.5 million was allocated in 2011-12 under Sindh Education Reform Program (SERP), World Bank loan for SSB, to Larkana district for procurement of above material for government schools but due to non-utilization, this budge is being lapsed every year. In 2011-12, Rs 3.486 billion were allocated for purchase of above material in Sindh but nothing was utilized.

Likewise, in 2012-13, Rs 3.765 billion were allocated, in 2013-14 Rs 3.765 billion tagged, and in 2014-15 Rs 4.063 billion were allocated and not utilized due to fear factor for previous mishaps, delay in posting of Taluka Education Officers (TEOs), devolution of Procure Committees (merger of education works wing into education department), violation of SPPRA rules at district level during procurement process and Court cases, sources disclosed. In 2015-16 Rs:4.68 billion have been allocated but without utilization so far. Sources said that the amount has not been utilized because the education department wants centralized procurement like the health department did in the past whereas the concerned DDOs are not capable to utilize this huge amount under SPPRA rules because of their incompetence and on the other hand the teacher unions want to utilize this budget through SEMIS code allocation resulting loss to the students and wastage of loan.

According to 2015-16 budget allocated to various regions under SSB included Rs: 80 million to Hyderabad region, Rs:55 million to Larkana region, Rs:54 million to Sukkur region, Rs:17 million to Karachi region, Rs:42 million to Mirpur Khas region and Rs:48.5 million to Shaheed Benazir Abad region. As per past practice it is feared that this amount will also be lapsed because the education secretary has so far failed to notify the procurement committees in these regions and finance department has also not created cost centres of the DOs which is really amazing.

Junaid Dahar, Regional Coordinator, Alif Ailaan, Larkana, said that the SERP has completely failed to achieve the desired results for which world bank has also given the report saying that it is partially satisfied with progress under the SERP. On the other hand, he added, SERP failed to utilize Rs:5.5 billions of the Disbursement Link Indicator-7 for school infrastructure development since past five years which indeed is astonishing.