ISLAMABAD: Having secured significant additional revenues and powers under the 18th constitutional amendment and 7th National Finance Commission award, the provinces have formally sought at least 40 per cent representation in boards of all federal entities and regulators in the Federal Legislative List (FLL).
Although some important members of the federal cabinet are against yielding more ground to federating units, significant sections in the federal and provincial leadership want to settle the issue or at least set the way forward before completion of five-year constitutional term of the current set-up in March.
The Council of Common Interests headed by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf with four chief ministers and three federal ministers has formed a standing committee to examine the issue of “provincial representation in the federal entities” by Feb 9, 2013.
The committee is headed by secretary of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee and comprises secretary law, provincial secretaries for IPCC, a representative each of CCI and relevant ministries.
The demand for provincial representation in all federal entities originally raised by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was formally taken up at a CCI meeting on Nov 8 and was supported by Punjab, according to minutes of the meeting provided to the four provinces.
A participant told Dawn that the two other provinces were also supporting the demand.
Records suggest that the CCI was informed that the KP’s summary on provincial representation referred to provisions of Article 154(1) of the Constitution that required the CCI to formulate and regulate policies in relation to the matter in Part-II of the federal legislative list and exercise supervision and control over related institutions.
There are about 20 regulatory bodies and over 60 federal entities which are governed by the federal government under part-II of the FLL.
The entities are estimated to have control over 300 projects of over Rs400 billion. Some of the regulators, like the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, already have 80 per cent provincial representation.
“For playing an effective role in functioning of the assignment of the CCI, the KP government has proposed that the provinces may be given at least 40 per cent representation in the management boards of all such institutions, regulatory bodies and other entities,” according to the minutes.
The KP chief minister was of the view that in matters relating to part-II of FLL and within in the ambit of CCI it was imperative for the provinces to play an effective role in evading consensus and facilitating decisions.
The Punjab government supported the position.
The demand did not go well with Prime Minister’s Adviser Dr Asim Hussain who attended the meeting on special invitation.
He said that oil companies were mostly joint ventures set up under articles of association and not fully owned by the federal government. Hence the provinces will have to obtain ownership through investment to secure positions on their boards.
Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar who was a member of the constitutional committee which formulated the 18th Amendment also opposed the demand. “Although these subjects have been placed in the purview of CCI, yet these belonged to the federal government and provincial interference will be contrary to the constitutional provisions,” he said, adding that “Part-II of the FLL was clear and did not give right or ownership of control to the provinces”.
Minister for Science Changez Khan Jamali who is a federal member on CCI said that under the FLL the federal entities were “governed in accordance with their own rules of procedure and hence it may not be possible to ensure 40 per cent provincial representation” on such bodies.
He agreed to the demand of the provinces to examine the issue through the CCI standing committee.
Of specific interest to the provinces are entities in entry-3 of the Part-II of the FLL. These include development of industries in federal control declared by federal law to be expedient in public interest, institutions, establishments, bodies, corporations including Wapda and PIDC, all undertakings, projects and schemes of such institutions wholly owned or set up by the federation.
Other major entries in part-II of the FLL include railways, electricity, mineral oil and gas, major ports, all regulatory authorities, management of public debt, census, legal, medical and other professions, scientific and technical research, extension of powers and jurisdiction of a police force belonging to any province to any area in another province and standards in institutions of higher education.
Under Article 154 (1) of the Constitution, the CCI “shall formulate and regulate policies in relation to matters in part-II of the federal legislative list and shall exercise supervision and control over related institutions”.