CM’s special package to keep MPAs happy

 

Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to spend Rs5 billion in its current financial year’s annual development programme under an umbrella project, which lacks direction and specific goals, according to officials.

The funding for the ‘Special package for development initiatives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ was released at the discretion of Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, officials told Media .They said the block allocation of Rs5 billion was made under the ADP without planning.“It (the package) is the chief minister’s fund. Wherever he likes, he spends it,” said an official of the planning and development department.Continuing with the last few years’ practices, the provincial government had made a single line allocation in its current ADP for using the special development package. The money has been planned to be spent in one year.

However, no proper planning has so far been made to determine the areas or development sectors the government would like to focus on under the special package.Official sources said the money would be spent ‘as and when’ the chief minister issued directives for carrying out any specific development project anywhere in the province.“Special packages are a black hole, a menace as the public funds are used in a highly unprofessional manner,” said a development planner.

Israrullah Gandapur, a member of the provincial assembly from Dera Ismail Khan district, said the concept of the chief minister’s special package had been introduced by the previous government in 2006-07, while the current government notonly continued with it and rather, it consistently increased the investment size over the years.“If the previous government had created a way to exercise leverage over the members of the provincial assembly, the sitting government has taken it to its new heights,” said Mr Gandapur, an ally of the Awami National Party-led coalition government.According to him, former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani had begun the package with an annual spending size of Rs1 billion in 2006-07. “They (the sitting government) have enlarged the size to Rs5 billion,” said the MPA.

The planning and development department officials said funds were issued from the package for development projects recommended by MPAs for their respective constituencies.It depends on the chief minister’s personal liking when it comes to the disbursement of funds earmarked for the special package, according to a relevant official.“MPAs receive around Rs40 million each from the special package for development work in their constituencies over and above Rs20 million each one of the 124 MPAs receive from the Tameer-i-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa programme for development activities in their respective constituencies,” said Mr Gandapur.

Official sources said the successive chief ministers used their special packages as leverage to oblige and influence MPAs.The special package, said a P & D official, proved handy for the province’s chief executives as they wielded power through distribution of development funds, luring opposition MPAs to their folds and maintaining good rapport with the treasury benches as well.“The sitting chief minister has been quite successful in pleasing all of MPAs irrespective of their party affiliation as he overwhelmingly used development funds to his advantage,” said an opposition MPA.

However, things appear to be quite different this year compared to the sitting government’s past four years in the office, according to official sources. An official said the government was not likely to materialise the Rs5 billion special package the way it had done in the previous years.“The money is not likely to be utilised in full this year,” said the official, referring to the limited time the sitting government was left with prior to the next general elections due in March 2013.

The P&D department officials said MPAs were not left with much time to exercise laidback attitude in submitting plans for their proposed projects for getting funds from the special package.Even if some of them might forward their proposed projects in the early months of the current financial year, it would take them time to get their proposed projects approved from the competent forums and in the end, they may not be able to personally supervise the execution of the projects. – Dawn