PESHAWAR, June 19: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Sirajul Haq on Wednesday ruled out any role for the members of the provincial and national assemblies in the use of development funds in future.
“We’ve allocated Rs1 billion for the early holding of the local body elections in the province. Once the power is transferred to local bodies, all funds will be used at local level with no interference of lawmakers in their utilisation. Their (lawmakers) role will be limited to legislation only,” he told a news conference at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad.
Mr Haq, who was accompanied by provincial finance secretary Sahibzada Saeed Ahmad and information secretary Azmat Hanif Orakzai, said the federal government should take pity on the downtrodden and poverty-stricken people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and give them the due constitutional rights, especially payment of net hydel profit and provision of frozen funds, without delay.
He said his government had presented a tax-free budget but shortage of resources had emerged as a major problem for it.
The minister said denial of net hydel profit was the issue of life and death for the people of the province.
“Due to poor industrial activities and delicate law and order situation, the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not able to bear more taxes and therefore, they are looking towards the payment of net hydel profit,” he said.
Mr Haq said the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had long been complaining about non-provision of due rights in the shape of financial resources.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had assured the provincial governments of giving due rights and that he was hopeful that the assurance would be translated into reality without delay.
The minister said he was hopeful that when the province was given its due share in the net hydel profit along with the arrears, then the public confidence would be restored and new avenues of prosperity would be opened in the province.
He said he was concerned that in spite of the decision of the reconciliatory jirga and guarantee of the federal government, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not given its due share in net hydel profit and that Wapda had also refused to pay Rs6 billion annual frozen amount dealing a shattering blow to the provincial economy.
Mr Haq said the fact was that Wapda had increased power tariff by hundred times over the years but the province had been denied annual due share of Rs6 billion.
He said in 1991, the frozen amount was be more than half of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget but due to heavy inflation, it remained only two per cent of the budget that was very meagre compared to the existing capacity of the provincial budget.
Te minister said the provincial budget had been divided into three components, including welfare, developmental and administrative, for which Rs162 billion, Rs118 billion and Rs63 billion respectively had been allocated.
He said in light of the prevailing conditions of the province, emergency had been imposed in the education, health and energy sectors for which Rs28 billion, Rs23 billion and Rs17 billion respectively had been allocated.
Mr Haq said austerity measures had initiated in all government offices, including the provincial cabinet and 50 per cent reduction in non-developmental expenditure had been made in the province. He said latest technology tools were being introduced to help eliminate thana and patwar cultures.
The minister said his government had appealed to the federal government to initiate small hydel power projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to overcome the existing heavy power crises in the country as there existed bright prospects of construction of small hydel power projects due to availability of a big amount of water in the rivers. He said the provincial government had identified 20 sites to the federal government, where small hydel power projects were feasible.
“This way, we could generate cheap electricity with nominal cost,” he said.
Mr Haq said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was generating double energy compared to its total consumption.
He said the total power consumption in the province was around 8,000 million kilowatts, while its generating capacity was 18,000 million kilowatts.
The minister said the average price of the electricity provided in the province was Rs1.30 per unit, while Tarbela dam produced electricity at the rate of 20 paisas per unit.
“We are paying Rs12 to Rs15 per unit for our own power,” he said. Mr Haq said the bill for easy excess to information had been presented to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and that his government wanted the people to have easy access to information.