PESHAWAR: The low utilisation of development funds by the local governments (LGs) has irked the provincial government so much that it has issued instructions to the LGs in the 25 districts to ensure efficient and ample utilisation of the uplift funds.

The provincial government has also launched inspection and monitoring mechanism across the province to expedite and evaluate development work being carried out at all tiers of the LGs – district, tehsil, neighbourhood and village councils.

The provincial government through the Local Government Election and Rural Development Department (LGE&RDD) has expressed dissatisfaction over the “slow progress of execution of the development schemes.”

According to the data of the LGE&RDD available with The News, the provincial government had allocated Rs42.09 billion development funds for the financial year 2015-16 which also included Rs11.82 billion meant for the ongoing schemes that were initiated by the provincial government before the advent of the present LGs.

It released Rs26.95 billion of the development funds to district, Town/Tehsil Municipal Administrations (TMAs), village councils and neighbourhood councils. These local government bodies succeeded in utilising Rs6.688 billion that comes to 24.81 percent of the funds released to these entities.

During 2016-17 fiscal the provincial government allocated Rs33.90 development funds for the three tiers of the LGs and it released Rs27.48 billion of the amount.

The LGs at all the levels of local governance could utilise just Rs4.88 billion that pitched at about 17.79 percent of the development funds released to the LGs for the fiscal. Finding the utilisation pace unsatisfactory, secretary LGE&RDD Syed Jamaluddin Shah through a communiqué to the LGs sought to get feedback on the development funds from the LGs.

The feedback received from these bodies presented even bleaker picture of the development spending by the local governance platforms.

The 25 districts got Rs7.85 billion of which the district administrations could utilise Rs1.7 billion only. The TMAs utilised Rs2.43 billion of Rs8.40 billion released to them, while the neighbourhood councils and village councils could only spend Rs684 million of the development funds.

The districts spent 22 percent of the funds released to them. They cited various factors for low utilisation which ranged from pending no-trust vote to the court cases as hindrances.

According to the feedback received by LGE&RDD, Abbottabad, Bannu, Malakand and Tank could not utilise the development funds as the court cases (stay orders) are pending against the district councils.

One of the underdeveloped districts, Torghar, could not spend a penny of its Rs150 million of uplift funds as the district council is non-functional due to no-trust vote against the nazim.

In both Upper Dir and Lower Dir, the development schemes are yet to be finalised and approved while in Charsadda and Hangu the PC-I of the schemes are still awaited from the executing agencies.

However, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Swabi, Swat and Mardan are among the districts where work on the development schemes is in progress in different stages of execution.

Taking note of the slow progress in the execution of the development schemes, the secretary LGE&RDD directed the LGs to ensure implementation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Procurement Regulatory Authority’s July 6 notification to expedite work on the schemes.

He directed the district administrations in the light of the notification to ensure initiation of work on the schemes within 15 days on which the contractors have offered the lowest bids.

The LGE&RDD on Wednesday issued directives and Terms of Reference (ToRs) to the inspection and monitoring committees it formed for the three regions in the province to ensure efficient utilisation of uplift funds.

These bodies will carry out random inspection of development work executed by assistant directors LG&RDD offices and village councils and neighbourhood councils of the respective districts.

They would also suggest appropriate actions for improvement and acceleration of work on the development schemes in the three regions including Central that comprise all five districts of Peshawar and Mardan divisions, Eastern made up of seven districts of Hazara Division, and Northern that include all seven districts of Malakand division, and Southern consisting of seven districts of Kohat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan divisions.

The is news was published in The News International on 27th July 2017.

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