PESHAWAR: The opposition criticised the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Friday over failure to inform the provincial assembly about the reason why Rs1 billion grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Gomal Zam Dam Command Area Development Project hasn’t been utilised.
During the assembly’s question hour, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Ahmad Kundi complained that he had submitted the question about the non-utilisation of the USAID grant to the assembly’s secretariat around a year ago but the irrigation department hadn’t replied to it yet.
He feared that the funds would lapse if the department didn’t initiate work on the foreign- funded project meant for the construction of canals to irrigate a vast area in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts.The US government had provided funds for the construction of Gomal Zam dam and a reservoir in South Waziristan tribal district. The project will help irrigate around 191,000 acres of land in two districts.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister Sultan Mohammad Khan requested Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani to defer the question due to the absence of irrigation minister Muhibullah Khan.
PA speaker resents absence of cabinet members, says govt shouldn’t call session if ministers don’t want to come
The speaker asked the minister in a sarcastic manner if he had a magic wand to ensure the attendance of cabinet members in the assembly.
He regretted that only two or three of 16 cabinet members were present in the house.
“The government should not requisition the assembly session if ministers don’t want to attend proceedings,” he asked food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi, who is also the PTI’s chief whip.
The chair directed the assembly secretary to send the attendance sheet of ministers, advisers and special assistants to the chief minister on a daily basis.
Finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and health minister Hisham Inamullah were also absent leading to the deferment of the questions related to their departments.
A majority of the cabinet members, including Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, skipped the assembly’s proceedings.
The chief minister had attended only 11 of the 61 working days during the first parliamentary year of the assembly.
Jamaat-i-Islami MPA from Bajaur district Sirajuddin pointed out that the government had released Rs61.75 million and Rs27.68 million for the provincial level hospitals and district level hospitals, respectively, from Zakat fund, but it ignored hospitals in the merged tribal districts. He said the government should also appoint chairmen of the Zakat committees in the merged districts.
The house decided that legal action would be taken against the contractors, who after getting the contract, often sublet work to other bidders and received money from them. It added that the practice was common in all departments.
Giving a ruling on a calling attention notice moved by PTI MPA Liaqat Ali Khan, Speaker Mushtaq Ghani directed the government to collect data about such contractors. “The government should blacklist such contractors and cancel their licences,” he said.
ANP MPA Khushdil Khan said there was no provision in the rules of the communication and works department, which allowed contractors to sublet schemes to others for money.
He said the government should take action against the illegal practice.
The opposition members criticised the government for not giving them the copies of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Razmak Cadet College Regulation (Repeal) Ordinance, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Actions (in aid of civil power) Ordinance, 2019.
Naeema Kishwar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl said on a point of order that she had submitted a resolution to the house seeking rejection of the Razmak College Ordinance.
She said under Rule 111 of the assembly’s rules of business, the government was bound to put that ordinance on the agenda in the first three days of the session for debate in the house. The lawmaker said any member could move a resolution for the rejection of the ordinance.
She said the government despite holding a majority in the house was promulgating ordinances instead of tabling bills in the assembly. Ms Kishwar regretted that her resolution was not included in the agenda for debate on the ordinance.
MPAs Ahmad Kundi and Khushdil Khan advocate complained that the lawmakers hadn’t received copies of the KP Actions (in aid of civil power) Ordinance, 2019.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani declared the matter irrelevant and didn’t allow the opposition to debate those ordinances.
He said the MPAs should propose amendments if they disagreed with certain clauses of the ordinances. Earlier, the lawmakers paid tribute to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto over her services for the country, especially democracy, and offered fateha for her.
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2019