Ahsan Iqbal, the federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, announced that a development budget of Rs. 700 billion has been proposed for the coming fiscal year.
He told the media today at Parliament House that the previous government had set aside Rs. 900 billion for the annual development programme, which has since been lowered to Rs. 500 billion.
Minister Iqbal stated that the provinces own 42 percent of the projects in the Federal Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) and should fund them. In addition, as a political bribe, the previous government included the province’s projects in the PSDP.
He added the government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but it is unclear how much the latter wants Pakistan to spend on development. He went on to say that the government will take steps to expedite development projects and that no talks would be held.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) requires Rs. 460 billion to complete its ongoing projects, according to the minister, and the overall PSDP spending this year was Rs. 480 billion. He claimed that due to the previous administration’s poor economic performance, the government is unable to support National Highway Authority (NHA) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) projects.
In addition, Minister Iqbal stated that the government will endeavour to strengthen the economy in the final year of its (current) term and will eventually call elections once the term ends.
He announced the cancellation of insignificant projects such as the Prime Minister’s (PM) House university project, which was announced by Imran Khan’s government. The minister stated that Rs. 25 billion had been set aside for the PM House university three years ago, but that the previous government had not spent any of it. He stated that the administration will rationalise all development initiatives and that national development projects would be prioritised.
Minister Iqbal also promised to create a science and technology university, as Pakistan’s nuclear father, Dr. A. Q. Khan, had envisioned.
Senator Salim Mandviwala presided over today’s Senate Standing Committee meeting at Parliament House. In the current fiscal year, the government cut development budget spending by Rs. 400 billion, according to the Secretary of Planning. The Secretary noted that the development budget for the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) districts was Rs 52.7 billion, but only Rs 36.9 billion had been released.