THE Government on Thursday revealed that the size of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the financial year 2019-20 is likely to remain unchanged at this year’s slashed level of Rs. 675, suggesting also that there would be no new mega development project during the next year. Briefing NA Standing Committee on Planning and Development, Secretary Planning also ruled out the possibility of restoring the projects in the next fiscal year that had been suspended by the present government to cut the overall size of the PSDP.
There is still enough time and the Government might review its thinking about development expenditure but the plans as announced throw cold water on expectations of any meaningful increase in the economic activity in the coming year as well. As for the ongoing year, the government slashed the development budget drastically, dropping not just new but also stopping funds for a number of ongoing important projects in the realm of infrastructure and connectivity. People affected by stoppage of work on these projects were hoping the situation to change in the next budget but the announcement of the Planning Secretary is dismal and also means there is least consideration of the money already invested in the ongoing projects. We have been emphasizing in these columns that there should be no politics over development and projects initiated by one government should be implemented by its successor so that people and regions concerned could benefit from them. The announcement to declare “agriculture emergency” in the country through a series of initiatives and focus on the construction sector in the coming budget and over the next five years for job creation is welcome but this should not mean neglecting other sectors and other requirements of the people. It is also to be pointed out that infrastructure especially roads and bridges are almost always built by the public sector and therefore it should not shun its responsibility in this regard.