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Larger PSDP funding sought

ISLAMABAD: The small coalition partners are putting pressure on the government and demanding a significant portion of the proposed Rs950 billion Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the next fiscal year. This request may result in further delays for strategically important projects.

Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that major demands for funds came from parties such as the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and smaller Balochistan-based parties. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting on Monday to review the demands put forward by the coalition partners.

During the meeting, one coalition partner demanded that the government release 40% of the annual PSDP during the first quarter of the next fiscal year. They argued that this would enable them to launch major projects before the general elections. However, such a demand for such a large portion of funds in just one quarter is unprecedented. Typically, only 7% to 15% of the total budget is spent during the first three months of the fiscal year. According to sources, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar did not agree to this demand.

Pakistan is currently facing its most challenging times, with a high risk of default. However, the political leadership is not making wise decisions due to competing interests among the 13 coalition partners.

Sources mentioned that the JUI, which controls the Ministry of Communication and the National Highway Authority (NHA), has managed to include many of its projects in the next year’s PSDP. However, due to competing demands and limited resources, the Ministry of Planning could not prepare the working paper for the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting scheduled for today (Tuesday). The PM is scheduled to chair the NEC meeting that will formally approve the next fiscal year’s PSDP and will also take up other important issues.

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