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Uplift plan for tribal districts in jeopardy over funds shortage

Uplift plan for tribal districts
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PESHAWAR: The implementation of Tribal Decade Strategy (2020-30) in its maiden year has been marred by non availability of pledged funds, complications in the merger of government departments, absence of baseline data to launch schemes and problems in land acquisition to construct buildings for government departments.

Tribal Decade Strategy (2020-30), a 10-year development plan, provides guiding principles for developmental initiatives in the erstwhile Fata.

The government has pledged to provide at least Rs100 billion every year for the next 10 year, reveals a 55-page report `The Beginning of Tribal Development Decade (2020-30)` prepared on the completion of the first year of the programme.

In the first financial year 2019-20, after merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in light of the 25th Amendment, no visible change could be seen in the affairs of the seven merged districts.

The federal government had pledged Rs72 billion for Annual Development Programme (ADP) and Accelerated Implementation Programme in the previous financial year out of which only Rs37 billion was released, sources in the planning and development department told Dawn. Similarly, provincial government had pledged Rs11 billion for the development schemes but it could only release Rs1 billion, they said.

Initially, a three-year programme was framed in the form of Accelerated Implementation Programme (AIP) under the Tribal Decade Strategy (TDS), comprising 206 interventions and falling over different sectors, laying the boarder foundation of development in the region, says the report.

Out of the AIP, the departments were able to approve 127 projects, in the first year, from the relevant forums with an aggregate cost of Rs142 billion. However, the report said that during the fiscal 201920, an amount of Rs24 billion was released to the departments, which was spent on the execution of various projects.

Besides, the sources said that there were also a lot of complications in the merger of various departments functioning in Fata into the KP departments and the absorption of the employees working there.

Sources said that merger of the departments and absorption of their employees was a tedious and time consuming process.

The report says that non-availability of baseline data is also one of the challenges as availability of baseline data is a critical factor in the planning process.

The baseline data has been missing for most of the sectors and affects the overall process of planning and designing of projects. The baseline is essential to avoid run of the mill projects and select the appropriate schemes envisioned in TDS and AIP.

Needs assessment is another missing factor essential for designing the most appropriate projects. The departments have spent a lot of time in need assessment with the involvement of different stake-holders.

Land accusation in the erstwhile Fata is one of the major challenges faced by the high ups of the government departments.

The report states that non-availability of land delayed the pace of development as most of the major projects involve construction of buildings and need availability of land.

Before merger, the government used to acquire land through traditional way under which six per cent of the total amount of the project was paid to the land owners, sources said.

However, they said, after merger of Fata with the province, the Land Acquisition Act was extended to the merged areas where land couldn`t be acquired easily due to absence of land settlement there.

Sources said that many departments surrendered millions of rupees meant for construction of buildings for government offices as there were issues in land acquisition.

The outbreak of Covid-19 across the globe also posed serious challenges to the implementation of AIP as offices were closed for months and planned activities were suspended due to the pandemic.

Closure of field offices and markets that supply construction material and further restrictions on the movement of labourers led to stoppage of work on various ongoing projects.

Cumbersome procurement process has also been termed one of the issues, which didn`t allow the fast-tracked implementation of projects in 2019-20 in the merged areas.

Traditional administrative and legal processes being followed with long tendering procedures, although necessary for ensuring transparency in the use of resources, took a longer time for projects to be executed.
Source: Dawn

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