LANDI KOTAL: Fata parliamentarians have complained about absence of new development schemes from the next annual development programme for the region besides increase in the governor’s discretionary funds.

According to them, officials of the Fata Secretariat informed them during the post-federal budget meetings that all allocated funds from the federal government would be spent on the ongoing schemes along with provision of cash assistance to the returning internally displaced families, mostly from North Waziristan and Khyber tribal agencies.

Bajaur Agency MNA Shahabuddin Khan criticised the Fata Secretariat for ignoring the parliamentarians’ recommendations and proposals about budgetary allocations for tribal agencies.

“The federal budget for the next fiscal, 2015-16, is strange as it has totally ignored the Fata people’s basic needs and demands,” he told Dawn here on Saturday.

Local MPs say 2015-16 budget has ignored tribesmen’s basic needs

The MNA said the new ADP had no funds for new educational institutions, health centres, roads, drinking water and electricity projects in Fata.

He said the Fata Secretariat officials lacked vision and capacity to use development funds allocated for the region.

“I was taken aback when I was told that an olive oil extraction factory will be installed in Bajaur Agency as there exists no olive orchards in the area. I had requested funds for the repair and reconstruction of local educational institutions,” he said. He informed that nearly 75000 children in Bajaur were out of schools where as there is no allocation of funds for construction of new schools there.

Shahabuddin Khan said despite the Fata Secretariat and federal government’s tall claims about developing Fata and bringing it on par with other parts of the country, not a single mega project had been executed in Fata during the last decade.

“We need universities, professional and technical colleges along with roads and bridges as well as provision of interrupted power supply,” he said.

The MNA said the Fata Secretariat was unable to completely utilise development funds and that Rs7 billion of the total of Rs23 billion funds lapsed last year.

“This is the third time during the last three years that billions of rupees of development funds have gone back to the federal government due to the inefficiency of the relevant officials,” he said.

Parliamentary leader of Fata in the National Assembly Dr Ghazi Gulab Jamal told Dawn that there was a huge disparity in budgetary allocations for Fata and other parts of the country.

“The government spends almost Rs50 billion on Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus service, while only Rs19 billion has been allocated for the development of entire Fata,” he said.

The MNA said the federal government hadn’t increased Fata development budget though the region required huge sums of money for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Kurram Agency MNA Sajid Hussain Turi said he was not happy with non-inclusion of new development schemes in the next federal budget.

He said despite official claims about the completion of old development schemes throughout Fata during the current ADP, funding for a number of such schemes had been withheld on the instructions of the Governor’s House.

Turi said a good chunk of money had been spent on the schemes of public interest but work on them had come to a halt due to stoppage of funds.

MNA Haji Shahji Gul of Khyber Agency rejected increase in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor’s discretionary funds and said such funds should be on the disposal of Fata lawmakers.

He complained that the governor’s discretionary funds had been increased 10 per cent and that too without the approval of Fata parliamentarians.

“The actual purpose of increase in the governor’s discretionary funds is to make Fata lawmakers subservient to the governor,” he said.

CONCILIATION PANEL FORMED: Six independent tribal parliamentarians on Saturday formed a conciliation committee to resolve differences between a group of social activists and traders and the Khyber Agency political administration.

The group of social activists and traders demonstrated outside the Governor’s House in Peshawar on last Tuesday to demand the transfer of all officials of Landi Kotal political administration over failure to resolve the people’s problems and victimisation of traders on political grounds.

On Monday, the local administration had sealed the shop of an office-bearer of Landi Kotal Bazaar Traders Union during anti-encroachment campaign.

SUSPECTED MILITANTS HELD: The security forces on Saturday arrested three suspected militants and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition during a search operation in Mandatho Kotay area in Jamrud.

They also demolished the house where the arrests were made.

Earlier, the forces imposed curfew in Ghundi area.

Local people said they heard gunfire for half an hour. However, no damage to public life was reported.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2015

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