LAHORE: The Ministry of Planning and Development (P&D) is going to write a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), requesting it to reconsider the decision of banning tendering of all projects, recruitment and development work, as it would affect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) progress in addition to causing billions of rupees loss to the country owing to increased development cost due to time delay, The News has learnt.
The ECP, in a notification issued on April 11, had directed that hat all kinds of recruitments in any ministry, division, department or institution of the federal government or any department or institution of any provincial and local government is banned forthwith, except recruitments by the federal or provincial public service commission and those where test/interviews have already been conducted by April 10, 2018.
The notification also ruled that all development schemes which have been approved with effect from April 1, 2018 like installation of gas pipelines, supply of electricity, road carpeting, water supply schemes etc shall not be executed by the federal/provincial/local governments. Moreover, the federal government, the provincial governments and the local governments shall not issue tenders for such schemes till the completion of the general elections-2018. It was also notified by the ECP that diversion of funds already allocated to various development projects in the country had been banned forthwith and the spending of funds so diverted shall stand frozen forthwith.
However, sources said the PML-N government believed that such an embargo would delay the projects that were a part of the CPEC. This delay has worried the Chinese counterparts as they have been following strict deadlines as the CPEC being the flagship programme of the Chinese bigger project 'One Belt One Road', sources added.
The P&D is of the view that the notification was quite premature and it would affect not only the CPEC, but the entire national development portfolio. The letter is likely to raise a question about the possible seizure of development in the entire last quarter of the fiscal year of the PML-N government. The ban on tendering by the ECP means that the tendering of the already approved projects cannot be executed.
The universities, schools and colleges established by the government would remain dysfunctional as they won't be able to hire any new faculty and other professional resource required. Similarly, newly-built hospitals like the Tayyip Erdogan Hospital, Muzaffargarh and the Institute of Cardiology, Wazirabad and others which are in the process of hiring human resource will also be hit.
The approval process for development projects by the CDWP continues year round. It takes two to three months for the processing and hiring for any particular project. This ban means that all those projects will be put in cold-storage as there would be a ban on hiring the staff.
When contacted, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal confirmed that the P&D is writing a letter to the ECP over the issue and said that this kind of measure by the ECP is taken during the caretaker setup when the election schedule is announced. This is the first time in the country's history that an entire quarter of the fiscal year had been paralyzed by this notification.
Commenting on the impact on the CPEC, the federal minister said the CPEC projects were also a part of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and obviously would be delayed by six months.
Usually, around 30 per cent funds are released during the last quarter of the fiscal year, he said adding that as a result of this notification a major chunk of the development fund would not be utilized. Ahsan said with three months of this fiscal year and three months of the next fiscal (post-election) delay in funds release would cause a cost-overrun of the projects and result in billions of rupees loss to the national exchequer