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Govt doles out billions to MPs at its fag end

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The outgoing government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has spent 99% of the total public sector development spending during his last six weeks in power on the parliamentarians’ schemes by blocking expenditures on other critical projects.

The details showed that since the start of the current fiscal year on July 1, the federal government spent Rs10.5 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Out of this, Rs10.4 billion or 99% of the spending was on the schemes recommended by the members of parliament, showed the details.

In total, the planning ministry authorised Rs129 billion worth of spending, including Rs61.3 billion for the parliamentarians’ schemes. But the actual spending out of the Rs129 billion authorisations was Rs10.5 billion.

After the development allocations in the budget, the Ministry of Planning issues the authorisation orders based on the quarterly ceilings set by the finance ministry. But the money is not automatically spent until it passes through the checks by the Ministry of Finance.

Against Rs129 billion authorisation orders by the planning ministry, the actual spending was hardly 8.2% during the current fiscal year 2023-24.

The spending on the projects being recommended by the members of parliament picked the pace ahead of the dissolution of the National Assembly in the hope of influencing voters.

However, despite making allocations of Rs116 billion in the last fiscal year and Rs10.4 billion during the past 40 days, the outgoing government was still not confident about contesting the general elections in November.

For the current fiscal year, the PDM government had allocated Rs90 billion for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an acronym used for the parliamentarians’ schemes. The outgoing government wanted to release the entire amount during the first quarter.

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