It is Almost half of foreign funded projects dysfunctional pathetic reminder of the complete lack of efficiency on part of the government machinery that almost half of the foreign-funded projects have faced problems that have impeded their performance. This is a pitiable state of affairs that points out to gross negligence on part of the government agencies dealing with such crucial matters in which a hefty amount for foreign funding is involved. Unfortunately, this state of affairs has remained visible in successive governments though the new in-coming government tries to shift the blame to the previous one. Moreover, such negligence may soon become instrumental in drying up the crucial foreign funding that is made usually available after considerable efforts. Even more worrying factor is that successive governments have showed heavy reliance on obtaining foreign funding owing to the lack of domestic financial resources that compels them to keep on cutting the annual development budgetary allocations.
In this context it was disclosed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs that 43 per cent of about $35 billion worth of foreign-funded projects suffer from problems as they were either not progressing well or unable to deliver the desired results. It was specifically pointed out that out of the total portfolio of such projects amounting to $34.8 billion, a full $15 billion or 43 per cent is declared to be suffering from problems. On top of that, it was reported that the share of federal energy projects is about $3.3 billion, of which $2.3 billion or almost 70 per cent is also rated as problematic. In wake of confronting problems it may not be surprising to observe that the energy sector is emerging as a challenge to the country’s stability as over 17 per cent losses and 10 per cent short recoveries in the power sector along with 10-17pc system losses in the gas sector have badly exacerbated the financial situation of the country.
The officials dealing with these matters deplored the prevailing situation of energy sector projects given their importance and impact on overall economy and the public at large. They point out that energy was arguably one of the most important inputs for economic growth to sustain industrial and commercial activities but it was emerging as a challenge. They also stressed the need for addressing the issue of problematic projects on an urgent basis, especially those facing chronic delays so as to pace up disbursements and progress. Reviewing the situation the dealing personnel decided to set milestones and deliverables with timelines by the focal ministries and implementing agencies for better monitoring and preventing time and cost overruns. They proposed holding up of regular follow-up monthly meetings by the focal ministries with executing agencies and stakeholders for due monitoring and prompt resolution of issues.
It was reported earlier that the concerned personnel of successive governments had taken serious note of sluggish foreign-funded development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and had decided that federal government agencies to keep a physical check on their progress through satellite-based monitoring. It was pointed out that a triad or three-pronged approach would be adopted to monitor these projects, which would entail physical progress verification through the satellites, financial tracking and prioritisation of fast-moving projects over slow-moving ones and the use of Gantt charts to track project timelines and ensure timely completion of key goals. In this connection it was mentioned that 34 foreign-funded projects were under implementation by the KP government for which the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Union, World Bank, China, France, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the United States had provided $3.651 billion.
It was also stated that reviewing the ADB-funded Access to Clean Energy Investment Programme, the KP government reported that out of the 8,000 schools, solar facilities had been installed in 5,946 schools. Similarly, 53 health units had been solarised, whereas contracts for the remaining 134 health units had been awarded and work was under progress. Under the micro-hydropower plant (MHPP) component, 287 MHPPs have been installed while installation for the remaining 411 is under way.
The progress on Pehur high-level canal extension project, for which the ADB has committed $86.41 million will benefit 75,000 people after completion with aims to develop a new irrigated area of over 8,727 hectares (around 21,565 acres) in Swabi and Nowshera districts located in the middle-east of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in which water resources for agricultural production were currently dependent on rainfall only. Twelve foreign-funded projects in Balochistan amounting to $509 million were currently under implementation in the province. Of them, two were problematic and four projects were partially satisfactory. Problematic projects such as the ADB-funded Balochistan Water Resources Development Project worth $102 million and the World Bank-funded Balochistan Water Management and Community Support Project worth $110 million. There is hardly any doubt that this neglect will have serious consequences for not only foreign-funding but also the welfare of the people of Pakistan itself. TW