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ISLAMABAD: Secretary Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Syed Zafar Ali Shah Thursday said the government has spent $ 1.5 billion from its own resources in flood-affected areas.

“Rupees 400 billion more will be spent till the end of the financial year 2022-23 in flood-affected areas for infrastructure, agriculture, and other sectors. The amount is also distributed through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP),” the secretary said, while talking to a select group of journalists.

He said that according to data for October, $ 30.1 billion in estimated damages and economic losses were incurred due to floods in Pakistan. He said that estimated needs for rehabilitation and reconstruction in a resilient way are at least $ 16.3 billion, not including much-needed new investments beyond the affected assets, to support Pakistan’s adaptation to climate change and overall resilience of the country to future climate shocks.

He said that housing; agriculture and livestock; and transport and communications sectors suffered the most significant damage, at $ 5.6 billion, $ 3.7 billion, and $ 3.3 billion, respectively.

He said that Sindh is the worst-affected province with close to 70 percent of total damages and losses, followed by Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.

The secretary said that losses of Sindh province are $20 billion, Balochistan is $4 billion, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab is $700 million, and $ 5 million of inter-provincial infrastructure. However, he said that damage assessment in Sindh and Balochistan continues.

Answering a question, the secretary said that the total Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for the current financial year is Rs727 billion. Zafar Ali Shah further said that authorisation of Rs257 billion for the development project has been issued till the last week of December, while the utilisation was Rs145bn during this period.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal, while presiding over the review meeting of the second quarter of the PSDP has noticed slow utilisation of funds that is 56pc of the authorised funds.

During the meeting, the PSDP projects of all the ministries/divisions were discussed while the minister was briefed on the utilisation and expenditures of funds.

“Those projects which are in advanced stages and have low utilisation should be capped and priority should be given to the important projects which are near to completion,” said the minister while stressing the ministries to ensure the utilisation of funds. The minister suggested that keeping in view the constraint budget and release strategy, priority may be assigned to those projects which are strategic and near completion.

The minister further said that the development budget has decreased from Rs1,000 billion to Rs727b during the last four years. For the first time in history, the previous government did not release the final quarterly installment for the development budget, said the minister.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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