PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has decided to withdraw the austerity plans announced on September 12, which banned all recruitments and cut the development budget by 25% for the fiscal year 2017-18.
The withdrawal comes amid confusion and objection from various departments. According to an official notification, in addition to a cut in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) budget, a complete ban was also proposed on new recruitments and purchase of any machinery and excess vehicles for use of government officials.
The provincial government had also hinted at impeding the release of funds for projects that were already underway or releasing the bare minimum for their completion. “These additional measures will stay in place till the government has a better footing and the financial state improves,” read the September 12 notification, a copy of which is in possession of The Express Tribune. The only maintenance that would have been allowed under the ad hoc rules would be repairs to government buildings, only if any future flooding damages them.
In addition, while speaking to The Express Tribune, K-P government spokesperson Shah Farman had explained that the measures were taken so that funds could be allocated for projects at the grass-roots level, such as upgrading medical equipment at district hospitals. “These measures have been taken in the general interest of the people. The funds have been diverted to strengthen institutions at the district level rather than just focusing on cities,” Farman had said.
On Friday, however, the finance department withdrew the notification that was in place to save money for the smooth operation of the government.
Sources in the K-P finance department have revealed that the austerity measures had been announced after approval from Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. However, the measures were to be implemented phase-wise, but the finance department made a mistake and imposed them all at once, which led to the confusion, added the sources.
While another source in the finance department cited the confusion and backlash from different departments to be the reason for the notification to be withdrawn.
“The measures created confusion amongst the departments so we have to issue a notification for the withdrawal of the austerity plans,” the official said.