Finance ministry objects to diversion of Rs24 bn CPEC funds

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VIAMehtab Haider
SOURCEThe News
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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Finance has raised objections over diversion of Rs24 billion funds from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other initiatives towards discretionary programme for parliamentarians under SDGs achievement programme and sought certification from the Planning Division for not revising upward the development budget.

After objections by the Finance Ministry over diversion of the funds, the Ministry of Planning certified through official communication that the revised allocated amount of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) as well as sectoral allocation for the current financial year would be fully protected.

“Yes we have certified in writing that the revised allocation of PSDP and sectoral allocation would be fully protected during the current fiscal year,” top official sources told The News on Thursday.

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An official of Planning Commission claimed that they diverted Rs24 billion out of Rs27 billion for head of special initiatives of CPEC and others. There was only Rs3 billion earmarked for CPEC special initiatives which were protected, but so far it was not yet released. They said that they created fiscal space of Rs24 billion through abandoning un-approved projects and scrapped almost 300 schemes.

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“We guarantee you that the allocation of Rs181 billion for CPEC published in to pink book of Finance Ministry with marginal increase of Rs200 million will be fully protected,” said the sources, but they did not share details that how much utilisation was so far done on CPEC projects during the current fiscal year so far.

“Although, the government has formally approved Rs24 billion for sustainable development goals (SDGs) achievement programme due to the pressures of the parliamentarians, but there is not much enthusiasm at top levels after witnessing criticism in the media,” said the sources.

The Ministry of Planning in its official statement argued that while reviewing PSDP for 2018-19 in September, 2018, the Ministry of Planning kept an allocation of Rs27 billion for CPEC and other initiatives which was meant to undertake new initiatives. The sectors include education, health, clean drinking water and sanitation, farm to market roads, gas, electricity and other interventions leading to achievement of SDGs goals. This programme is community driven and the execution will be governed by adhering to strict rules and managed by a steering committee. It is wrong to give an impression that funds have been diverted from CPEC projects to law makers’ schemes.

The allocations made for CPEC projects were as per requirement and demand of executing agencies for FY 2018-19. Despite rationalisation of PSDP from Rs800 billion to Rs675 billion, allocations of ongoing CPEC projects were protected.

The official spokesperson for the Planning Ministry stated that SDGs Achievement Programme will help achieve SDGs since the programme is be responsive in nature and make intervention as per demand of the people of area/region. In fact, from next financial year, the government would start another programme to be called Regional Equalization Programme in consultation with the provincial governments to ensure balance and equitable regional growth by starting programmes/projects in the less developed districts of the country.

(This news/article originally appeared in The News on March 8th, 2019)

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