May 27, 2018

RDA stuck in Rs. 100 billion roadblock Featured

The Treasury has turned down a request from the Highways Ministry to allocate an additional Rs 100 billion for the completion of road network projects before the end of the year. A senior Treasury official said the request, if agreed upon, would force the Treasury to slash funds of other ministries.

“We may have to cut five to 15 percent from several ministries to find the funding for the road projects. That is a difficult task and will be unfair by the other ministries,” the official said. The request for the funding for Road Development Authority (RDA) projects had been made on the grounds that they were already running short of funds to pay for projects which need to be completed before the end of the year.  The extra funding had been sought in addition to Rs 120 billion allocated for the road projects to be started or completed this year.

However, RDA Chairman Nihal Suriyaarachchi told the Sunday Times that they were compelled to make the request for additional funding as they had expedited some of the road projects to be completed on deadline and also had undertaken new projects to cover 200 km.

He said that so far the RDA had been able carry out its projects on schedule, but if the additional funding was not released some of the projects might be delayed. This would force the state to pay contractors for the delay.

“We have explained the issues to the Highways Ministry and are hopeful it would be able to discuss the issue with the Finance Ministry and obtain the funds,” the RDA chief said. Highways Minister Kabir Hashim’s spokesman said the additional funding was needed as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had directed that rural and urban road network projects be improved.

He said that the minister hoped to discuss the matter with the Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government recently allocated US$ 1billion for the Central Expressway project to complete the Kadawatha-Mirigama section.