New US programme seeks to execute half of Kerry-Lugar aid to Pak by 2012

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Islamabad, Oct 28 (ANI): The US government has decided to execute almost fifty per cent of the Kerry Lugar aid projects through the government of Pakistan by 2012.

Pakistan is set to get 7.5 billion dollars under the Kerry-Lugar package, which accounts to around 1.5 billion dollars annually, but due to the capacity issue of both the USAID and the government departments, only a limited portion of the amount is being utilized, the Daily Times reported.

To counter this, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Chief Financial Officer David Ostermeyer has launched a five-year 45-million-dollar Assessment and Strengthening Programme (ASP) that will improve the capacity of Pakistani organisations to manage US development assistance programmes.

Talking to media after the launch of the ASP, Ostermeyer said that that during his visit to Pakistan, he observed the needs for plugging the gaps in the public sector procurement process, as the nation had a good policy and regulatory framework for the management and procurement procedures, however, the problem started from its execution especially at the time of procurement.

"But there are gaps in the execution side," he said, and added that the need for capacity building was at the federal as well as the provincial level.

He also said that Pakistan should establish the district governments to ensure proper execution of projects. The focus of executing projects by the USAID was shifting from contractors to the government channel, and this also required effective monitoring and managerial skills by the departments, he noted.

"This programme will enable us to work directly with numerous Pakistani organisations to avoid wastage of US tax payers money," Ostermeyer said, adding, "It will not only ensure the most effective and efficient use of resources, but also cultivate a close, long-term relationship between the two nations."

Under the ASP, the USAID will provide a major portion of its assistance directly through local organisations. The programme will help organisations and departments develop their administrative, financial and procurement management systems for handling US government funds. (ANI)

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