* Meagre amounts released to agriculture, health and communication ministries in first quarter of current fiscal year

Contrary to its claims of giving top priority to the sectors of agriculture and health to ensure food security and public health, the government on Tuesday held back funds for various development projects, releasing only Rs 1.079 billion and Rs 1.963 billion respectively for the first quarter of the financial year 2009-10.

The two ministries had earlier been promised Rs 8.056 billion and Rs 5.386 billion in the first quarter respectively.

On the second day of the 3-day deliberations for the first quarterly review of the Public Sector Development Programme PSDP 2009-10, the meeting was informed that the total allocation for the Food and Agriculture Ministry was Rs 17.961 billion for 51 development projects.

The ministry had demanded Rs 8.056 billion in the first quarter of 2009-10, but it will be allowed only Rs 1.079 billion.

Some important schemes being undertaken by the ministry include National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses in Pakistan, Special Programme for Food Security and Productivity Enhancement of Small Farmers in 1012 villages, Crops Maximisation Project, National Project for Enhancing Existing Grain Storage Capacity and National Commercial Seed Production Programme.

In the PSDP 2009-10, the government had allocated Rs 23.154 billion for total 78 development projects in the health sector. The Health Ministry had demanded Rs 5.386 billion for the completion of their certain projects in the first quarter, but the Finance Ministry only released Rs 1.963 billion.

The meeting also identified a Rs 2 million difference between the PSDP and the Finance Ministry’s Pink Book.

The PSDP review meeting also discussed the allocation for the Ministry of Communication.

In the PSDP 2009-10, the government allocated Rs 45.97 billion for its 85 development schemes.

At the beginning of the current fiscal year, the ministry had demanded Rs 14.69 billion for the first quarter. However, the government released only Rs 7.75 billion.

Sources further said the meeting also identified a difference of Rs 5.782 billion in the books of PSDP and the Pink Book. In the annual budget, the government allocated Rs 5.582 billion in the PSDP for 86 developmental projects under the Ministry of Housing and Works.

The ministry had demanded Rs 2.07 billion in the first quarter of 2009-10, but only Rs 161 million were released.

The meeting identified a Rs 217 million difference between the PSDP and the Pink Book.

Daily Times