Federal Cabinet has directed Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resource to advise Sui gas companies to complete unfinished schemes as well as initiate new schemes in districts exempted from moratorium on sharing basis under Prime Minister Qaumi Taraqqiati Programme. Sources said that minimum size of individual schemes would be Rs 2.5 million, while schemes over Rs 30 million would be approved by the Prime Minister and only new schemes with no previous funding would be executed under the programme.
Official documents available with Business Recorder reveal that a meeting of the Cabinet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave approval to the Prime Minister’s Sustainable Development Goals Programme/ Wazeer-e-Azam Qaumi Taraqqiati Programme 2016-18 and directed Cabinet members to convey their suggestions to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs within two days for improvement to finalise the implementation mechanism.
The meeting also approved composition of a Steering Committee to supervise the programme, in which Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Chairman Sheikh Aftab Ahmed would be the chairman and Captain Muhammad Safdar (Retd), Senator Saud Majeed, Secretary Cabinet Division, Representative/Focal Person of the Finance Ministry, Planning Controller General of Accounts would be members.
The Committee would determine whether a given scheme would be executed through Programme Implementation Unit (PIU), headed by Cabinet Secretary, or through Divisional Implementation and Coordination Committee (DICC). A Provincial Steering Committees (PSC) would also be established at provincial level and these would be headed by Chief Ministers or his nominee and members of the committee would be one MPA from each Division as well as Secretary Finance, C&W, Health, Education etc.
The DICC committee would be convened by each Commissioner concerned and two MNAs, two MPAs, two elected heads of local governments to collect and identify schemes from the community. The Commissioner will undertake initial vetting along with cost estimates, prepare PC-I and solicit administrative approval by different forums after receiving clearance from the PIU, and execute and supervise schemes within the division. The Cabinet Division would release funds for development schemes on the recommendation of the Steering Committee, these funds would be placed in the Special Drawing Account of the Commissioner concerned, who would make payments direct to the contractors and vendors after due verification by the executing agencies and resident consultants. The PIU would employ the services of a consultant to undertake third party audit and verification of at least 50 percent schemes under the programme.
The meeting was told that at least 15 residents of an area or a civil society organisation would request for intervention in the chosen sectors and the request would be forwarded to the concerned Commissioner, federal or relevant executing agencies for technical feasibility and cost estimates. Then the proposal would be submitted to the competent forum ie Department Development Working Party/Provincial Development Working Party or Central Development Working Party for approval. Schemes would then be submitted to PSC/PIU for approval and release of funds.
The Cabinet was informed that no substitution/addition /deletion of schemes would be allowed after release of funds nor saving of one scheme would be available for utilization in some other scheme(s). Saving, if any, would be immediately surrendered to the PIU and physical work would be started after fulfilling all formalities including adherence to PPRA rules and would be completed within the stipulated time (preferably during 2016-17 and in exceptional cases during 2017-18 after the approval of (PSC).
The Cabinet was briefed that allocation of funds for the schemes would not be incurred on the purchase of equipment (except for labs etc), vehicles, fixtures, salaries, printing of diaries/ calendars/banners, holding of official meetings and dinners/parties etc and that no administrative overheads would be charged by any agency for these schemes.
The Commissioner or other executing agencies would prepare completion certificates on PC-IV proforma within three months of the project completion and would send copies to PIU. The funds utilized on these schemes would be subject to normal accounting and audit procedures and adjustment accounts/audited statements would be furnished by the respective Commissioner/federal executing agencies.
The need to simplify procedure of the Programme, streamline the channels of funding and the composition of different Committees under the Programme also came under discussion. The meeting also discussed the Programme would not succeed without the involvement and ownership of provinces as the provincial departments may not fully cooperate without the participation of provinces. During discussion on the mechanism for identification of the schemes, it was suggested Programme may be executed at the level of DCOs/DCs rather than Commissioners. The local government representatives may be made part of the Program to ensure their ownership and minimum limit of 2.5 million was quite high and may be reduced significantly to cater for small schemes.
The meeting was further suggested funds being allocated for a scheme may be declared non-lapsable as the experience of different schemes shows that once the funds were lapsed, it was difficult to get them allocated for the scheme. As a result a number of schemes could not be completed due to want of additional allocation. A special reference was made to the Sui gas schemes many of which had been left incomplete due to lack or lapse of funds.
The meeting was informed the internet/broadband connectivity was part and parcel of each goal identified in the global SDGs; Universal Service Fund (USF) was meant to provide accessible /affordable connectivity and members want funding for connectivity to be arranged through USF. The Cabinet was informed as compared to other countries of the region, Pakistan lagged behind in the achievement of 34 indicators of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).