National Highway Authority (NHA) projects worth billions of rupees have come to halt due to non-payment of funds by the government. The funds were to be released under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the third quarter of the current fiscal year.
The NHA contractors did not receive payments for the last three months because of the non-release of funds and as a result, they adopted a policy of either go-slow or abandoned the infrastructure projects, including those being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
While Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said on Sunday that all CPEC-related projects were heading towards completion at a fast pace. The projects affected are mostly situated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Baluchistan.
The government earmarked Rs119 billion to the NHA in FY 20-21, but the concerned ministry released only 30% of the funds, making it difficult for the department to complete the projects in time.
According to an official of the communication ministry, funds for the third quarter were to be released on January 1, but they were released in April. The relevant ministries are bound to release PSDP funds to the NHA at the beginning of all four quarters of the fiscal year.
The contractors wait for the release of funds and in case of no-release they purchase construction material on credit and sometimes halt the projects due to non-payment of dues.
The same has happened in the third quarter of the current year when contractors were not paid their dues and they stopped work on the projects.
Major NHA development projects affected due to non-release of funds by the government include Package-6 Rehabilitation of National Highway & Bridges, Fazilpur; D.I. Khan Lot-3 Ramak-D.I. Khan; Construction of Hakla on M-I to Yarik; D.I. Khan Motorway (CPEC) (Rehmani Khel to Kot Balian), Package-2B; Construction of Hakla on M-I to Yarik D.I. Khan Motorway (CPEC), Yarak-Rahmani Khel, Package-I; Dualisation of Old Bannu Road (Gaandi Chowk to Sarai Naurang), Package-3; Dualisation of Old Bannu Road (Khurram to Krapa), Package-2; Dualisation of Old Bannu Road (Domail to Khurram), Package-1; Peshawar Northern Bypass, Packages-2 and 3; Lowari Tunnel, South Access Road, N-45; Lowari Tunnel, North Access Road, N-45; Construction of Khuzdar-Shadadkot Section of Gwadar, Ratodero Road, M-8 Section-IV, Package-III; Construction of black top road Yakmach-Kharan via Dostain Wad Khurmaqai Section-IV; Construction of Hakla on M-I to Yarik D.I. Khan Motorway (CPEC) (Pindi Gheb to Hakla), Packages I, II, III, IV and V; Lahore Eastern Bypass, Package-II; Construction of infrastructure and allied work for Metro Bus Services (Peshawar Morr-Golra Morr), packages-I and II; Dualisation of N-55, Petaro-Sehwan Section, Package-IA; and Dualisation of remaining portion of Sukkur Bypass.
When contacted, a senior official of the NHA, who did not want to be named, told Dawn that the planning division was responsible for the delay in the release of funds. He, however, said the finance ministry had released the funds for the third quarter and the NHA would get them on Monday.