PESHAWAR: The previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government released Rs63 billion less development funds to the local bodies than their due share in the last three financial years in violation of the law, according to sources.

They said that only Rs52 billion of total Rs115 billion share of the three tiers of local bodies, including the district, tehsil and village and neighborhood councils, in the provincial annual development programme were released in the previous three financial years.

“Release of less amount of funds to the local bodies than their share is a violation of the KP Local Government Act 2013 and section 140-A of the Constitution,” a district nazim told Dawn.

Nazim blames finance and other relevant departments for slow utilisation of funds

Section 53 of the KPLGA states: “…in addition to the establishment charges budgeted for the devolved functions and transfers in lieu of Octroi and Zilla taxes, the development grant for local governments shall be so determined that it is not less than thirty per cent of the total development budget of the province in the respective year.”

Also, section 140-A of the Constitution states: “Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”

In the first financial year (2015-16) of the local bodies, the provincial government had slashed Rs27 billion from the share of the LG funds as they were given only Rs15 billion against their share of Rs42 billion.

The total outlay of the provincial development programme was Rs175 billion and of this the provincial portion amounted to Rs142 billion and foreign-funded portion was Rs33 billion. Of the Rs142 billion, the local bodies’ share was Rs42 billion.

In the second financial year (2016-17) of the local bodies, the provincial government released Rs27 billion, depriving the local bodies of Rs9 billion. In that year, the share of the local bodies was Rs36 billion in the Rs125 billion provincial ADP.

In the previous fiscal year (2017-18), the third year of the local bodies, the government released only Rs10 billion to the three tiers of the local governments against their share of Rs37 billion.

The provincial ADP for the financial year 2017-18 was Rs208 billion. The development outlay envisages the provincial component of Rs126 billion and Rs82 billion foreign component.

Keeping in view the 30 per cent formula under the law, the local governments had Rs37.8 billion as their share in the budget.

Authorities at the helm of affairs justify the provincial government’s cut in the local bodies fund on different pretexts, the sources said. For instance, they said, the provincial finance department arbitrarily decided that funds would be released to those districts which had utilised 60 per cent of their previous development funds.

District nazim, Shangla, Niaz Ahmed told Dawn that setting the condition of 60 per cent utilisation of the previous budget for release of fresh funds was a violation of the KP Local Government Act. He said that the provincial government should have deleted the relevant clause from the law regarding 30 per cent share of the local bodies in the provincial ADP if it did not want to give lawful share to the local governments.

He blamed the provincial finance department and officials of the devolved departments for slow utilisation of funds. He said that if the provincial finance department released funds at the end of June, just a few days before closing of financial year, it would be impossible for the local governments to utilise them. He said that officials of the executing departments were also responsible for slow utilisation of funds.

Provincial Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra was not available for comments.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018