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Federal Secretary Ministry of Communication, Jawad Rafiq Friday revealed that the ministry and attached departments are facing serious fund shortage because of slow releases by the Ministry of Finance and as a result important projects are facing delay. The secretary communication said this while briefing a subcommittee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held under the chairmanship of Member of National Assembly (MNA) Noor Alam Khan to review and discuss audit paras of the Ministry of Communication and attached departments of the year 2017-18.

Jawad Rafiq said that as a result of non-release of funds from the Ministry of Finance, contractor operating on Western Route, Burhan-Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan section of packages IV and V, has sent a notice of stopping work on the projects.

He said that during ongoing financial year so far Ministry of Finance has released only Rs 7 billion to the Ministry of Planning while in the first quarter of the year expenditures and payables of ministry have crossed Rs 20 billion mark.

The panel directed the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning and Development to release all the required funds for the approved projects, saying delay in fund release escalates project costs, therefore, the government must ensure timely releases.

Jawad Rafiq further said that his ministry is writing letters to the finance and planning ministries on monthly basis, but is not receiving positive response. He stated that Ministry of Communication and attached departments are not responsible for the escalating costs of the projects, which is a result of delay in fund releases by relevant ministry.

He further said that Ministry of Communication has also sent a summary to the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), stating facts about the ongoing situation of the ministry and National Highway Authority. Responding to a question asked by member Committee Shibli Faraz, the secretary communication said that during recent Chinese visits both the countries have discussed the matters related to Western Route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Jawad Rafiq maintained both the countries have agreed upon inclusion of road construction projects under CPEC on Western Route for which initial progress would soon be started.

The representative of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) briefing the panel on three inquiries forwarded by PAC said that the bureau has completed the inquiries. The NAB representative said that now the bureau has sent the findings of the inquiries to National Engineering Council and PPRA for getting technical opinion and both the organizations will respond within a month.

The panel directed the NAB to share all the developments on the inquiries forwarded by PAC with the PAC secretariat.

The secretary communication responding to an audit objection said that NHA deposited Rs 11 billion in the Zari Taraqiati Bank (ZTBL) after issuing a tender and the amount deposited in the account of the bank provided highest return.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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