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PESHAWAR: The education department is at the receiving end in terms of funds in the post-devolution regime as the district governments haven’t been giving it the full share in their respective development and non-development budgets since their formation in 2015.

A district education officer told Dawn that he hadn’t received non-development budget from the respective district government for two years and thus, forcing him to use the money allocated for other heads to manage the department’s day-to-day affairs.

He said each district government was bound by the guidelines formulated the planning and development department in 2015 for local bodies to allocate 20 percent of its development funds for the education department.

Nazim justifies move, saying LGs get fewer funds from provincial govt

The DEO said the finance department released billions of rupees worth of funds to local bodies every year for non-salary expenditure with each devolved department having share in it.

A relevant official said the finance department had formally informed the elementary and secondary education department about the Rs5.5 billion non-development budget for devolved departments in fiscal 2016-17, including Rs3.2 billion for the education department in districts.

He, however, said the district governments released Rs1.7 billion to the education department in the previous financial year.

The non-development budget is meant for the fuel, maintenance and repairs of vehicles, procurement of classroom items, whitewash and petty repairs in government schools.

Another DEO said the denial of full share in funds by the local bodies adversely affected the cause of education in districts.

He said the education department’s bosses had taken up the matter with the chief secretary, LG and finance secretaries and deputy commissioners, but to no avail.

“When we demand the full payment of budget, the nazims give us the excuse of reduction in their overall funds by the provincial government,” he insisted.

When contacted, district nazim of Mardan Himayatullah Mayar acknowledged the payment of a lesser amount than the due one to the education department in districts by local bodies.

He, however, justified it saying the provision of limited funds to LGs by the provincial government was to blame.

The nazim said the district funds being given away by the provincial government had a special share for all devolved departments in line with the P&D guidelines, which bound all district governments to ensure their release to the respective departments.

“There is a cut on funds for devolved departments when the finance department slashes funds for district governments in violation of the Provincial Finance Commission award,” he said.

Mr Mayar, who is also the president of the Local Government Association, said the first quarter of the current fiscal year was about to complete but the first tranche of the LG funds hadn’t released by the finance department.

He also said the government had been curtailing the devolved development funds every year since the installation of the current local bodies in 2015.

An official said the government slashed the local governments’ budgetary share by Rs27 billion by releasing only Rs15 billion of the Rs42 billion in their first year (2015-16), while only Rs27 billion was released to local bodies against their share of Rs33 billion in 2016-17.

He said in the current fiscal, the LGs had a share of Rs37.8 billion in the provincial budget but the government hadn’t yet paid them a single penny though the first quarter of the year would end in a week.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2017