PESHAWAR - Despite utilisation of half of its budget by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa agriculture department in the first six months of the ongoing financial year, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government did not spend any amount for free distribution of seeds to farmers in the ongoing wheat season under Insaf Food Security Programme, launched in the previous year.

The programme was started by the PTI government for three years and approximately Rs3 billion fund was allocated for the scheme, however, due to financial crunch, the scheme could not be continued and the funds were diverted to other sectors.

PTI-led provincial government has also refused to contribute to the continuation of fertilizer subsidy for the remaining six months of the current fiscal year and only Punjab has agreed to contribute its share to the subsidy scheme.

Sources said that Rs27.96 billion were allocated in budget for financial year 2016-17 for the subsidy to be equally shared by the federal and provincial governments with all four provinces. The subsidy included Rs17.16 billion for urea and Rs10.8 billion for DAP.

However, the KP share in subsidy - Rs0.70 billion, which the government refused to pay for the next six months on fertilizer on the grounds that the amount which had been allocated in the budget for fertilizer subsidy had been already utilized.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa agriculture department in the last six months of financial year 2016-17 utilized half of its budget released by the finance department to agriculture sector while the next half will soon be released to spend in next six months of the ongoing financial year.

Talking to the Nation, Director Planning Directorate General of Agriculture Khyber-Pakhtukhwa Murtaza informed that an amount of Rs564 million has been allocated for the ongoing developmental schemes of the agriculture sector for financial year 2016-17. Out of that Rs285.750 million has been utilised which is almost 87 per cent of the released budget, he added.

The total allocated amount for salary budget was Rs1,638 million, Rs793 million for non-salary budget the allocation of the ongoing year, and for developmental expenditure the total estimated amount was Rs8,634 million.

He said that for the ongoing schemes Rs564 million has been allocated out of which Rs285.750 million has been utilised and the rest of the amount will be utilised soon after release from the finance department.

He said that the summary regarding utilisation of half of the existing amount has been sent to concerned secretary and request has been submitted to the finance department for the immediate release of the remaining amount for agriculture extension programmes.

In the current financial year, four schemes were completed in the agriculture sector which include Agriculture Training Institute up-gradation with the total cost of Rs50 million and food security projects at a cost of Rs250 million. A huge portion, Rs40 million, was spent on previous schemes of seed distribution programme and Swabi agriculture scheme.

Out of the Rs564 million budget, half of the release amount - Rs285 million - has already been spent while the remaining amount will be released soon after the approval of the finance department.