Mehtab Haider

Media Category: Print
Media Organization: The News International

Journalist working in Islamabad on business and economy

Nominated Work

Title: Lawmakers misusing development funds: USAID

Parliamentarians are misappropriating annual development funds by including politically-motivated projects in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2012-13, according to a latest USAID study.

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians are misappropriating annual development funds by including politically-motivated projects in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2012-13, according to a latest USAID study. “This practice results in two systematic problems: the encouragement of corruption and rent-seeking and the violation of the principles of the annual plans,” said a study titled “Planning and development architecture in Pakistan: A case for restructuring”. There are approximately 600 such projects with total estimated cost of Rs1,000 billion, which have not been approved by any government body, including the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP), Central Development Working Party (CDWP), the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), etc. Since overambitious development projects are listed in the PSDP, small projects and those without strategic value make their way to the programme even without approval, said a source associated with the study. Interestingly, the completion of the study coincides with the desperate efforts of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and many of his cabinet ministers in getting numerous unapproved projects (including the Gujjar Khan package, development projects for the constituency of PPP minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal, and the Depalpur projects of Mian Manzoor Watoo) included in the PSDP allocation. Work on Gujjar Khan package is underway despite the fact that it has not been approved, it is observed. These developments seem to draw voters. The study indicated that the PSDP consists of a sizeable number of unapproved projects listed under numerous ministries / divisions and provincial departments. These projects are either designed late or their approval is delayed. A large number of such projects, thus, appear in the grant of the ministry of finance. This way, a large number of small projects find their way to the PSDP and the annual development programmes (ADPs) preempting time, resources, designing and appraisal efforts. “Presently, the PSDP and ADPs comprise small number of large projects and a large number of small projects,” it noted. The USAID found that the absence of institutional framework to curb political influence gave vested interests leeway in bringing in politically-motivated development projects, which have not been conceived in the long-term planning and annual plans. The projects in the PSDP must have the approval of the parliament to become integral part of the Finance Bill. Hence, any project approved outside the PSDP is a violation of the law. The organisation asked the government to drastically cut the size of the PSDP and the PSDP and the annual development plans should comprise only mega projects, which, at any point in time, should not exceed 150-200 important and strategic projects. However, it said, it might not be possible for the government to slash the size of the PSDP up to 150-200 projects in one year and, therefore, small, less important and non-strategic projects should be made Part B of the PSDP / ADPs. USAID also recommended that projects for which the requisitioning ministries / departments have sought Ecnec’s approval, should find their way to the PSDP. “This will help block the influx of politically-motivated projects and will ensure that only those projects, which are aligned with the national priorities, are considered,” it said. The current investment portfolio of the PSDP 2012-13 is around Rs4.3 trillion with around 3,243 projects being implemented across the country. The spokesperson for the Planning and Development Division put the number of PSDP projects at 1,076.

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