Budget 2013-14: Senators propose package for overseas Pakistanis

Members of Senate proposed to evolve a package for Overseas Pakistanis, which should include reduction of custom’s duties on house hold items, vehicles up to 1000cc. and acquisition of state, land for industrial/commercial and residential purposes. Members of the Senate finalised their proposals for budget 2013-14 for the National Assembly.

Senators proposed to clear the four times throw forward liability of the actual PSDP, 80 percent PSDP may be allocated to an ongoing project, while 20 percent should be earmarked for new projects. Fast Moving Projects should be given priority for completion to create a space for new projects in the forthcoming PSDP. It has been proposed that the provincial governments may be taken on board while identifying and prioritising the new for federal PSDP specially the less developed provinces like Balochistan where the federal investment is too less.

They also proposed that the share of Balochistan province in PSDP 2013-14 should be increased from 9 percent-10 percent to 15 percent-20 percent to clear the huge backlog of the ongoing projects and a sizable amount should be kept for new development projects.

Releases should be processed rapidly as it takes months to process any funding for the projects and Ministry of Finance, AGPR and Planning Division should clear all the releases in a week’s time instead of months and months, the senators suggested.

It has been proposed that the Fiscal Year should begin from July 1 instead of a delay of two months for all PSDP funded projects. Likewise first quarter on July 1, second quarter on October 1, third quarter on January 1 and fourth quarter should be started on April 1. The initial delay of two months disturbs the entire system. On time start of the Fiscal year is the only way to avail atleast 300 working days in a particular fiscal year. Moreover the slack season (Summer and Winter) should be utilised properly.

They proposed that the condition of certification of expenditure at the end of every quarter for further release of funds should be avoided and before the fourth quarter starts the actual expenditure should be asked for. There is great need to improve the standards of Monitoring and Evaluation and it should be done through proper trained professionals instead of existing system where the staff of the I&M section of Planning Commission is insufficient and in-effective for Monitoring, they proposed.

Latest mining Policy of Ministry of Commerce should be implemented on priority basis, the Senators proposed. It has been proposed that solar energy should be generated to run the mining machinery and it should be financed by banking sector on same terms & conditions as offered for mining machinery in the new mining policy of Ministry of Commerce. Besides this, they proposed that banking industry infrastructure and a well knitted branch system should be developed throughout Balochistan.

Senator Mohsin Leghari recommended that PASCO should make purchases of grains by employing Islamic mode of financing to free the small farmers from the clutches of very high interest of typical arhtis and middle men to grow their crops. He also recommended that in the Finance Bill 2013 in, clause 44, sub clause (b) the figure 1200, be substituted with 1300 and 1201 be substituted with 1301, as 1200 cc hybrid cars are not being manufactured by any established car manufacturer.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah recommended that schemes for water and power development (water sector mainly Makhai Farash Link Canal project, Chotiaria Phase-II Sindh) shown at Sr.No 1163 and mentioned on page 109 of the Public Sector Development Schemes 2013-14 was started during the financial year 1990-91, primarily because the Nara Canal had narrowed to an extent that it lost water carrying capacity to District Sanghar and District Umarkot. The non-completion of the scheme has caused acute shortage of water in District Sanghar and District Umarkot.

He said that in the original PC-I time for completion of project is 3 years. It was proposed and agreed upon that the funds will be released for development: work to be shared by Federal Government (80 percent and Government of Sindh (20 percent). “If we look and analysis the funding position it is clear that actual amount released both by Federal Government and Government of Sindh is less than the proposed PC-I phasing from 2006-2007 to 2011-2012,” he added.

Mushahid said that the provisions of funds in first 3 years were much lower than as planned, adding that until now from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009 Federal Government only released 216.64 million of its share as per PC-I cost Rs 1383.90 million which is about 15.65 percent where as Sindh Government only released Rs 100 million against Rs 345.98 million which is about 29 percent of its share. From this, you can easily conclude that with this low percentage of availability of funds project completion time has been extended.

He said that now project is entering into its 6th year and over all 41 percent funds are made available both by Federal Government and Government of Sindh. With this slow percentage rate of release the already started works becomes slower and progress could not meet as per implementation plan. Mushahid said that in the implementation schedule it was proposed that work will completed by 2008-2009, but this did not happen due to different reason specially unavailability of funds, as the cost of land increased land acquisition became more difficult. Further, rise in diesel rates increased the labour rates of men and machinery. The already awarded contracts of earthwork are based on old SRC 2004. By adding allowable difference, the cost of work will be increased drastically. If regular funding is provided the revised project will be completed in stipulated period, he added.

The Senators recommended to the National Assembly that due to increase in the prices of inputs in the agricultural sector, the credit facility to farmers per produce index unit may be increased by 20%. They recommended for taking all necessary steps to implement the provisions of the Water Accord of 1991. It has been recommended to withdraw the raise in the General Sales Tax, as it would raise prices of all commodities which would adversely affect the common man.

They were of view that funds may be allocated for supply of gas pipeline to District Umarkot in Sindh. They said that subsidy to farmers on fertiliser pesticide, seeds, and the tariff on electricity in areas where water for irrigation purposes is lifted though lift machines in the Charki areas. It has been recommended to allocate funds for construction of dual carriage between Mirpurkhas and Umarkot in Sindh Province.

They recommended that proposals for demand of grants of various Ministries be routed and sanctioned/allowed through the relevant Standing Committees of Parliament. The senators said that after the passage of the budget, the concerned Standing Committees of Parliament Oversee, and monitor the expenditure of various Ministries of the government.

The Public Accounts Committee should also consist of members of the Senate, that the said committee may be a representative Committee of both houses of Parliament, they added. They proposed to take appropriate steps to protect the cumulative interest of the Farming Community of Pakistan, while determining the most favoured Nation treatment to India.

They opined that in order to address the issues of mismanagement, and financial losses, the management of Public Sector Enterprises should exclusively consist of professionally qualified people whose qualifications have nexus to the nature of the state enterprise. The senators further recommended to merge/amalgamate all those ministries which are related and have nexus to energy into one Ministry, so as to facilitate co-ordination and to address issues of load shedding.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013

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