PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday passed the Rs23.7 billion supplementary budget for financial year 2017-18 amid division between the treasury and opposition benches over the legality of the financial statement.
Awami National Party MPA Khushdil Khan challenged the constitutional status of the supplementary budget on a point of order before the approval of demand for grants for different departments.
He asked the treasury to explain whether the 2017-18 financial statement, especially Rs16.9 billion expenditures under the head of development, was supplementary or excess budget.
Treasury, opposition at odds over legality of financial statement
The lawmaker pointed out that the government couldn’t present excess budget under Article 124 of the Constitution.
“Approval of the excess budget by the house will be unconstitutional,” he said seeking a ruling from the chair to define the status of the supplementary budget.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan chaired the sitting.
Inayatullah Khan of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal supported the mover and said the government didn’t follow rules to utilise excess budget.
He said the finance department couldn’t create new heads in the supplementary budget.
The MMA member said the government was demanding the house’s approval of the head of provision of gas and electrification in the irrigation sector.
He insisted that financial statement for the year 2017-18, particularly development budget, was excess and not supplementary.
Mr Inayatullah also said the government utilised budget before the end of the previous financial year and sought approval in Oct.
He said the government could seek supplementary grant before the end of June.
The opposition members put finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra in trouble.
He sought the help of the official galleries to resolve the matter. The minister tried in vain to satisfy the opposition. He admitted that he had lesser experience of the constitutional matters.
The minister heaved a sigh of relief when the chair adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes to discuss the matter with legal brain. Law and parliamentary affairs Minister Barrister Sultan Mohammad Khan reached the house to rescue treasury benches.
After the break, the finance minister informed the lawmakers that the government could utilise funds due to unforeseen situation.
He said the supplementary budget was placed before the cabinet for approval before being presented in the assembly.
The minister said the successive governments presented supplementary budgets.
He termed the 2017-18 financial statement a supplementary budget and said the government won’t do anything unconstitutional.
Law minister Barrister Sultan said Article 124 of the Constitution addressed the matter and that it was the government’s prerogative to present supplementary budget.
He sought the chair’s ruling on the issue.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan declared it supplementary budget and said Article 124 had been followed.
MPA Inayatullah said the matter couldn’t be discussed by the house after the chair’s ruling, while it could only be challenged in the court.
The budget was passed after the opposition withdrew cut motions.
Finance minister Taimur Jhagra in his concluding remarks assured the house that the province’s financial rights would be protected.
He said he was assured by Prime Minister Imran Khan and finance minister Asad Umar that KP would receive Rs65 billion arrears in the head of net hydel profit during the current financial year, which would be used for the development of the province.
The minister said the provincial government would prepare budget for newly merged seven tribal districts next year.
The sitting was adjourned until 10am on Monday.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2018
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