Federal and provincial budgets, which are currently are being announced or have been presented, mainly comprise two parts i.e. current or non-development budget for day to day running of the government business and development budget for undertaking works for well-being and welfare of the people and for provision of basic and essential facilities.
Federal Government has already presented its sixth budget in the fifth year of its constitutional; tenure for financial year 2018-19 and provincial budget of Sindh for three months has also been presented on May 10 while those of Punjab, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan are likely to be presented within couple of days.
The development budget of the federal government is known as the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and that of the provinces are called Annual Development Programmes (ADPs).
The PSDP is an integral part of public investment which plays a key role in resource utilization through an efficient and effective implementation of development projects and programmes to achieve targets as envisaged in the incumbent federal government’s Vision 2025. PSDP is in fact the driver of economic growth besides ensuring the equitable socio-economic development in all areas and regions of the country. Besides PSDP, provinces, public sector enterprises and local authorities also invest their resources, as per the requirements, for development in the country.
PSDP for financial year 2018-19 as such has also been formulated in line with overall development agenda of the outgoing present government and its people friendly policies. Efforts have been made to ensure alignment of the PSDP with development objectives as enunciated in the seven pillars of the Vision 2025 and for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The PSDP on the whole is people centric and aimed at promoting national integration. Accordingly, it has been formulated by adopting inclusive, consultative and participatory approach and is in accordance with the division of subjects between the Federal Government and Provincial Governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan in the post 18th Constitutional Amendment scenario.
It is pertinent to mention here prior to mentioning overall PSDP outlay that Ministries of Finance and Planning, Development and Reforms were involved in a bit of tussle in this regard. The Finance Ministry wanted to allocate Rs 700 billion whereas the Planning, Development and Reform wanted to take the development budget to still higher level than PSDP 2017-18’s highest-ever allocation of Rs 1001 billion.
Allocation of still higher funds for PSDP 2018-19 in line with its accelerated development agenda which it has been following during last five years, according to some critics, indicates confidence and hope of the outgoing ruling party of returning to power after 2018 elections also to be held within three months of caretaker regime taking over after the incumbent federal government steps down on May 31, 2018 on successfully completing its stipulated five years tenure of five years. As of May 11, the caretaker prime minister has not yet been announced and no date for next general election announced which have to take place ahead of August 31, 2018 unless somehow, God-forbid, delayed on any unpleasant account.
However, without any pleasantness, it was the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform emerged victorious as the highest economic body , National Economic Council (NEC) finally decided the PSDP size for next financial year to be Rs 1030 billion including Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode financing indicating an increase of 3 per cent over the current PSDP outlay. Provincial ADPs were allocated Rs 1013 billion as the federal government continues to support the provinces even after 18th Constitutional Amendment in the areas of health, education and infrastructure in order to continue boosting provincial growth trajectory.
According to information and data available from official sources at the appropriate level, the Planning, Development and Reform Ministry after series of detailed discussions in bilateral meetings distributed the available resources among Ministries and Divisions keeping in view respective ongoing portfolio and future programmes.
Ministries and Divisions, numbering as many as 42, were accordingly advised to prepare their respective development portfolio for financial year 2018-19, in the light of the guidelines for ensuring allocation of funds according to their priorities and requirements.
The guidelines according to which the development priorities and requirements were prepared included ensuring the projects fall under sectoral priorities and contribute to achieving high level goals set under Vision 2015 and 11th Five Year Plan; identify projects that may be undertaken on innovative modes of financing i.e. Public Private Partnership, community participation . cost sharing by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) ; include projects having identifiable and tangible outcome for achieving SDGs by 2030; provide full rupee cover to foreign aided projects; allocate appropriate funds to on-going projects which are at a fairly advanced stage of completion; the projects initiated under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and supporting schemes should be allocated required funds to ensure their timely completion and projects awarded on EPC contract should be financed as per requirements of the contract within the indicated ceiling for 2018-19; provisions of 18th Constitutional Amendment in terms of division of subjects between the federal and provincial government must be followed; at least 20 to 25 per cent of the total cost of new projects in the PSDP for next fiscal year must be allocated for ensuring a felt start, and; in case of lesser allocation the executing agencies will not start work without prior approval of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform.
Accordingly, a major portion of the PSDP for next financial year, about 63 per cent, of its overall size has been earmarked for the on-going projects for ensuring timely completion of maximum of these projects without delays and cost escalations. Total number of 1235, highest ever, have been listed in the PSDP 2018-19 out of which 726 are ongoing and 508 new schemes. All Ministries and Divisions as well as the executing agencies have also been directed to ensure that their unapproved projects are duly processed and submitted for consideration and approval at the appropriate level by August 31, 2018.
Pending detailed discussion about PSDP 2018-19 separately mentioning important and main projects of each sector , sector-wise allocations are briefly : Infrastructure Rs 575 billion (62 per cent) inclusive of Transport and Communications Rs 400 billion (43 per cent) , Social Sector Rs 136 billion (14 per cent), Science and Information Technology Rs 12 billion (only 1 per cent) Governance Rs 18 billion ( 2 per cent) and Special Areas of FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir Rs 72 billion (8 per cent) besides Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) rehabilitation and enhancement of security etc Rs 105 billion (11 per cent) besides block allocation of Rs 100 billion for new projects by the next government. All these allocations indicate the priorities and importance which the federal government attaches to different sectors of national economy.
The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad.