The government diverted Rs. 24 billion from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other initiatives for discretionary spending to parliamentarians’ schemes, as per a report by The Express Tribune.
The amount has been diverted from grant number 137, which is related to CPEC and other initiatives, showed official documents of the Ministry of Planning and Development.
The money has been moved to the Cabinet Division’s grant number 108, which already has an allocation of Rs. 5 billion.
The total spending on parliamentarians’ schemes would reach Rs. 29 billion this year. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has started with a Rs. 29 billion spending plan for its first year in power.
During the last year of the previous government, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spent Rs. 32.6 billion under the PM’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Achievement Fund.
CPEC and other initiatives have a total approved allocation of Rs. 27 billion and diversion of Rs. 24 billion suggests that CPEC projects will be adversely affected.
This also shows that the PTI government gives less priority to CPEC and is keen to win and retain political loyalties of members of the National Assembly by doling out taxpayer money.
According to the report, this spending is also a violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the discretionary spending case of former minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The money has been diverted without the parliament’s approval.
Parliament’s ex-post facto approval, as per practice, will be taken along with the new fiscal year’s budget, which will deprive the legislature of the scrutiny of expenditures.
“The approved funds of Rs. 24 billion will be surrendered in favor of the Cabinet Division’s Development Grant Number 108, out of the allocation for CPEC and other initiatives available in the development grant of Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reform in PSDP 2018-19,” read the official memorandum.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had vowed that he would not use taxpayer money to lure voters.
As per the report, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtyar cautioned that if the money was not given for parliamentarians’ schemes, the government might lose next elections.
The last PML-N government had spent over Rs. 130 billion in about three years in over 100 constituencies and yet it could not win the general elections.
Hasan Daud Butt, who is the official spokesman for CPEC affairs, stated that the CPEC funds have not been diverted. Moreover, he did not provide a breakdown of the Rs. 27 billion grant to prove his claim.