ISLAMABAD: Irregularities allegedly committed by the previous Balochistan government in development programmes forced the Supreme Court on Thursday to consider examining the usefulness of such schemes under which funds doled out to legislators were sometimes misused.
However, after deliberations the court decided to re-appropriate funds for the ongoing uplift schemes.
“We have to give a judgement after examining whether allocating funds to the legislators is permissible, especially in view of the state of affairs in Balochistan,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said before asking Attorney General Irfan Qadir to assist the bench on the matter.
The chief justice was heading a three-judge bench hearing a petition of Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan, a leader of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
The petitioner had raised a number of questions on the manner in which the money had been spent by the government of Nawab Aslam Raisani on various development schemes. He alleged that most of the Rs250 million allocated to each member of the Balochistan Assembly had been misappropriated, leaving a majority of the schemes incomplete.
The court expressed reservations on the way the development funds received through the National Finance Commission had been spent in the province during the past five years, but decided to allow the provincial government to re-appropriate budgetary allocations since all developmental works on Rs24 billion schemes had been suspended due to a stay order issued earlier.
The court was told that the funds would lapse if not spent before June.
Advocate Khawaja Haris, representing the Balochistan government, said cases of misappropriation had been sent to the National Accountability Bureau.
He said non-payment to the executing agencies of development schemes had triggered litigation between the provincial government and the contractors.
Hr said the provincial government had been left with no option but to re-appropriate funds from one head to another to ensure early completion of projects.
The court noted that the system of development programmes had commenced in 1985 when assemblies had been elected on a non-party basis.
“There is a consensus all over the developed world that the executive carries out development work whereas the legislators only pass laws,” it said in its order, adding that one of the means of removing deprivation in a province was to look after the daily requirements and needs of the citizens by creating jobs.
Despite expenditure of considerable funds, the citizens of the province had never benefited and the Balochistan government had an obligation to initiate civil and criminal action against those responsible for not spending the funds for the welfare of people, it said.
As a result, despondency in the province is increasing. Had sincere efforts been made to ensure security and create opportunities to earn livelihood by introducing development schemes, things would have been different in Balochistan, it said.
The court will commence examining the utility of the development schemes two weeks later.