Finance dept report finds education funds underutilised

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Not much has been spent on education projects including construction and improvement works, and teacher training. This was reflected in documents of the finance department which stated only 30% of the development budget has been used by the elementary and secondary education department since the 2015-16 budget was announced.

As per the documents, available with The Express Tribune, Rs15.98 billion was allocated for 799 new schemes in 2015-16, but only Rs4.88 billion, or 30%, has been used. This is in spite of an education emergency in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

A large amount of the budget was set aside for providing missing facilities for schools and repair work. But a report of K-P Independent Monitoring Unit published in March showed 30% schools across the province have no potable water while 16% do not have a toilet for students or teachers.  The report further revealed students in 40% of the schools have no power supply for fans and lights, while 16% have no boundary walls.

‘Inconsistency’

Centre for Governance and Public Accountability Programme Manager Malik Masood Khan said every year there is a huge difference between the reports by finance and elementary and secondary education departments on the estimated and utilised budget figures. Malik Masood said the education department should improve their capacity as they are not properly utilising the budget. He added on the insistence of MPAs the finance department released funds for the construction and up-gradation of schools, but the money was not put to use properly.

Using the LG set-up

Malik Masood suggested the development budget be released through local government (LG) members who will utilise the money on the grass-roots level. He added local bodies are not in a position to undertake development work as the funds have not been handed to them.

The K-P government claimed development work would be responsibility of local bodies, the CGPA programme manager said. Now that LG representatives have been elected, the government is not giving them the funds, causing development work to screech to a halt, Malik Masood maintained.

Right pace, right time

However, Elementary and Secondary Education Additional Secretary Qaiser Alam said they were on the right track and were using development money in the right place and at the right pace. He rejected that only 30% of the budget has been used in eight months, saying they have utilised more in achieving their target.

About missing facilities, he said, a majority of the schools have been given all things required. Even the necessary furniture and lavatory facilities have been provided.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th,  2016.

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