ISLAMABAD: Presiding over a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar gave approval to discretionary funds of Rs20 billion more for parliamentarians’ schemes, taking it to a record Rs111 billion.
According to a report published in local media, the finance minister further approved Rs4 billion in additional funds for the armed forces and Rs10.75 billion for national immunisation.
With this approval of Rs20 billion, the funding for controversial Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme (SAP) has been increased from Rs93 billion to Rs113 billion for the financial year. Initially, the SAP funding was fixed at Rs67 billion on the eve of the budget but it was revised several times and now it went up again. Irrespective of the political divide, all political regimes in the recent past had used the exchequer to please parliamentarians to win them.
The funds for the scheme were increased in October last year to ensure that all 174 members of the National Assembly belonging to the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement get Rs500m worth of small schemes — sewage lines, gas, water and electricity connections, and repair and maintenance of streets — in the name of Sustainable Development Goals.
The ECC also approved a supplementary grant of Rs208 million for the Intelligence Bureau (IB).