The failure of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to utilize even 50 percent of its developmental budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 have raised many eye brows over the attitude of the provincial government towards its commitments and promises regarding the development in KP.
In the budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20, the KP government had allocated Rs 319 billion for development projects in the province, including Rs237 billion for settled districts and over Rs 81 billion for newly formed tribal districts. However, until May, Rs 65 billion out of Rs 237 billion had been utilized in the settled districts and a small ratio of Rs 6 billion was utilized in the tribal districts as compared to the total budget allocated for the developmental projects of Rs 81 billion for the newly formed districts.
It is pertinent to mention that the provincial government had decided on heavy allocations for four key public sectors, including education, youth developments, communication and tourism, however, all four sectors were greatly ignored in term of developmental works and this is one of the reason that all opposition parties raised reservations over the progress of KP government in FY 2019-20.
Besides, there were many sectors including food department, mineral development, population welfare, science, information technologies and transport sector which did not use any funds allocated to them in the last eleven months. This is a clear indication of poor governance and incompetency.
Meanwhile, according to the sources, the Chief Minister has also showed his displeasure over the sluggish progress of the development in the province. It is believed that delays in the decision-making process, strict rules and regulations are some of the factors responsible for poor utilization of funds.
As per previous data regarding the budget lapse, the first PTI provincial government in 2013-14 had allocated Rs 83 billion, out of which the government utilized only Rs 66 billion leaving a fund of Rs 9 billion unspent. While the allocations in 2014-15 were increased by Rs 17 billion to Rs 100 billion, out of this, a total of Rs 90 billion were utilized. In the fiscal year 2015-16, allocations were increased 13 per cent to Rs 113 billion and the provincial government ended up releasing only Rs 108 billion, out of which, Rs 101 billion were utilized.
The trend did not stop in 2016-17 and Rs 125 billion were allocated, 11 per cent more from previous fiscal year. However, the government released Rs 123 billion and Rs 119 billion were used. The K-P government increased the allocation by 1 percent and allocated Rs 126 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18 for development. But the provincial government released only Rs 114 billion, nine billion rupees less than previous financial year and Rs 108 billion were spent.
Allocations were slashed by 14 per cent to Rs 108.9 billion in the fiscal year 2018-19 while the government claims to have released Rs 95.6 billion by May 31. Of this, it used Rs 76.1 billion while Rs 19.5 billion went unused.
Many experts blame the absence of an effective local government in the province for such huge amount of unutilized budget for years. This should be a concern for PTI led government in the province and the provincial government should take the issue more seriously. The issue of unused fund must be resolved in the upcoming FY in order to fulfil its promises with the masses.