Sindh again fails in timely utilization of uplift funds

KARACHI: Provincial government of Sindh as per its past record has failed this year also in proper utilizing of development funds, to the dismay of hapless residents of this province and to the joy of the nexus of corrupt bureaucracy and crooked contractors, who earn huge commissions and kickbacks when huge remaining funds are hurriedly spent before the closure of financial year.

This issue has already raised several times on the floor of Sindh assembly, and particularly MQM lawmakers have time and again demanded that the development budget should be used timely in whole year and avoid its slow utilizations which results in either lapses of funds or their pilferage through commissions and kickbacks by corrupt officers and contractors as these funds are hastily spent just before the closing of the financial year. Everyone in the government from top to bottom knows about this old malpractice aimed at to get maximum commission and kickback but they tolerate this because in the end everyone is happy with his share of these budget spoils.

However, this time when sans April only about two months are left of the ongoing financial year, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has taken strong notice of this malpractice.

Syed Qaim Ali Shah expressed displeasure on the performance of various Sindh government department which have failed to utilise development budget for the concluding financial year 2014-15.

“This is unacceptable. The PPP government gives top priority to development of the province and I would never allow negligence into it,” he said while presiding over a review meeting of development works being carried out all over Sindh here at CM House Wednesday.

Additional chief Secretary (Development) Mohammad Waseem told the meetingthat the total development portfolio of current financial year 2014-15 was Rs168 billion which include Rs143 billion provincial ADP and Rs25 billion district ADP. “There are 2937 schemes, of them 1658 are on-going schemes and 1279 new schemes. Rs90.1 billion were allocated for on-going and Rs52.9billion new schemes,” he said.

He said out of total development budget 15 percent budget was allocated for local government, 14 percent for energy,, 9 percent for health, 8 percent for education 7 percent for special initiatives, 7 percent for road constructions, 6 percent for irrigation and 34 percent for other medium and small schemes.

The ACS giving presentation about the utilization of development budget said that Auqaf, Zakat & Religious Affairs has utilized only 20 percent development budget. “Rs266.4 million were allocated for their uplift schemes, of them Rs161.548 million have been released upto April 4, 2015 and their utilization of the released funds comes to Rs32.756 million,” he said and added “the health department has Rs13,224.924 million budget against which Rs7.200.616 million have been released against which they have utilized Rs2.775 billion and their utilization ratio of released funds comes to 39 percent.”

He said that the industries department had allocation of Rs125.558 million against which Rs38.5 million have been released while their utilization is only Rs17.816 million which shows the utilization ratio of 46 percent. “The Labour Department has allocation of Rs103.680 million against which the finance department has released Rs9.390 million and they have utilized only Rs1.5 million which comes to 16 percent of the released funds,” he deplored.

Talking about Livestock & Fisheries Department the ACS said that their allocation was of Rs2,070.67 million against which Rs599.249 million have been released while they have utilized only Rs111.689 million which is 19 percent utilization of the released funds. On this chief minister asked the ACS Mohammad Waseem if he had taken up the issue with Livestock department he replied in affirmative and said he had sent a number of letters to them.

He said the Mines & Mineral Department has a allocation of Rs279.420 million against which the finance dept has released Rs85.673 million while they have utilized only Rs3.450 million which shows that utilization is only 4 percent of the released amount. This figure displeased chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and he directed his Principal Secretary Mr Allamuddin Bullo to convene a special meeting of secretaries of the departments who have failed to utilize their development budget. “This is a very deplorable position and how I can tolerate it,” he said.

The ACS (Development), Mr Waseem said that the population Welfare department has also utilized only 12 percent. “They have the allocation of Rs1760.000 million and their utilisation is only Rs91.103 million which is only 12 percent of the total released funds,” he said. On this the chief minister observed that the performance of the department is deplorable.

Talking about transport department, he said it has an allocation of Rs3,216.000 million against which Rs72.138 million have been released while the department has utilized only Rs7.581 million which is 11 percent utilization. This figure displeased the chief minister and he said that there were lot of transport issues in the province and the department was not performing well.

The chief minister also showed his displeasure on the Works & Services Department when the ACS told him that they have utilized Rs4,915.413 against the released funds of Rs9,594.438 million which becomes 51 percent utilisation. This department has total allocation of Rs9,744.480 million.

The Social Welfare department has also utilised only 31 percent development funds. It has an alllocation of Rs313.2 million against which the Finance hs released Rs94 million while utilisation is 29.277 million.

The chief minister decided to chair a joint meeting of finance, planning & development departments in which the secretaries of the department which have shown unsatisfactory results in terms of development works next week. In that meeting provincial ministers would also be invited.

The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary to CM Alamuddin Bullo, Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Mohammd Waseem, Secretary Development Rehana Memon, Secretary (Planning) P&D Dr Shireen Narejo, Secretary Technical PS Rajani, Chief Economist Abdul fatah Marri and other top officers of Planning & Development Department.

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