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Task force to decide fate of Fata secretariat

Updated September 13, 2018

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PESHAWAR: Following the federal government decision to abolish ministry of state and frontier regions the Task Force on tribal areas’ merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is likely to decide the fate of the Civil Secretariat Fata.

A source told Dawn that the task force would make the decision about the future of the secretariat and would issue directions for the transfer of its powers and functions to the provincial government.

He said the departments of the Fata Secretariat and its attached directorates and authorities would be merged with the respective departments in the province.

Separate cells used to function in the line departments of the provincial secretariat to carry out activities in tribal areas before the creation of the Fata Secretariat.

“The current staff will continue to perform their respective duties in the existing building (secretariat) to run the system in seven merged districts but they will report to the administrative heads in the provincial secretariat,” he said.

Source claims provincial govt to get secretariat’s powers, functions

The task force headed by adviser to the prime minister on establishment Mohammad Shahzad Arbab will chair meeting to be held in Islamabad to work out modalities for the merger of attached departments and directorates with the line departments of the provincial secretariat.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, federal minister for religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, other task force members and senior officials will attend the meeting.

Sources said the office of the additional chief secretary, who was the principal accounting officer and administrative head of the erstwhile Fata, was being abolished and the KP ACS would take over all affairs in near future.

Fata was merged with KP in the wake of 25th Constitutional Amendment last May.

The provincial health department has already taken over the Directorate of Health Fata after the issuance of a notification in this regard last week.

Other departments, including education, have yet to take over the relevant attached departments and directorates currently running affairs in the defunct Fata.

The existing Fata Secretariat was the brainchild of former president retired General Pervez Musharraf. The government had abolished the Fata Development Corporation in 2002 and empowered the Governor’s Secretariat to oversee the administrative, financial and development affairs in the tribal borderlands.

Separate cells in the line departments and directorates of the provincial government carried out functions in Fata until 2000.

A separate secretariat was established in 2004 without providing legal cover, while the federal government notified rules for the disposal of business in the Fata secretariat and line departments.

Following the establishment of Fata Secretariat, six line departments and 25 directorates were created in addition to the Fata Development and Fata Disaster Management Authority.

According to an official document, the Fata Secretariat staff comprised 350 employees of the defunct FDC, approximately 900 employees of the secretariat and around 2,700 project employees and current budget of the secretariat was around Rs15 billion in 2015.

The senior officials said the provincial government could not interfere in the proposed annual development programme 2018-19 for the seven merged districts as the federal government had made those allocations because the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues was maintaining the accounting system in those areas.

The secretariat has finalised the Rs22 billion ADP for these districts and made sector wise allocations.

Officials said the ADP was waiting for the approval of the chief minister. The defunct Fata receives ‘one-line’ budget from the federal government.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018