Centre asks provinces to announce their own finance commission awards

Updated 02 Jul 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan in a group photo with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Khan Buzdar (2L), Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah (L), KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan (2R) and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani. — APP/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan in a group photo with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Khan Buzdar (2L), Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah (L), KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan (2R) and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, directed the provincial governments to announce Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) awards to end any “disparity” in distribution of funds among districts.

The cabinet decided to initiate a process to evaluate professional degrees and technical skills of pilots and other staff of all airlines of the country, including the national flag carrier — Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

It also approved an increase in the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI) pension from Rs6,500 to Rs8,500 per month.

The cabinet was told that Mr Khan had no fear of the opposition’s desire of “minus one” (removal of the prime minister) and he and his government would definitely complete their five-year term.

“The prime minister directed all provinces to immediately announce their Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) Awards to ensure equal distribution of funds provided by the centre,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn after the meeting.

In a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said: “The prime minister ordered the provinces to make Provincial Financial Commissions functional.”

Cabinet decides to evaluate professional degrees, technical skills of pilots, other staff of all airlines, approves increase in EOBI pension

The minister said when the meeting discussed the issue of “disparity” in distribution of funds among districts, particularly in Punjab, the prime minister said that when the centre released funds to a province under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, it was the responsibility of the province to ensure equal distribution of funds at the grass root level.

Mr Faraz said it had been observed that most of development funds had been spent in the constituency of the chief minister of the province. “We have seen exceptional utilisation of funds in Lahore in the past,” he added

Fawad Chaudhry said the PFCs were constituted by former president General Pervez Musharraf’s regime for devolution of funds to the gross root level (from provinces to union council level).

He said after Musharraf era, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz wrapped up the PFCs and they did not exit till to date.

Mr Faraz said to check misuse of funds and excessive expenditure by public sector development organisations like Pakistan Public Works Department, the prime minister ordered formation of a special committee headed by federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar which would prepare a report in 90 days and present its recommendations regarding effective utilisation of development funds. In this connection the cabinet approved e-tendering system for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The prime minister, Mr Faraz said, directed the authorities concerned to transfer development funds, which had lapsed at the end of fiscal year 2019-20, to Karachi and the federal capital for development activities.

On the issue of alleged fake and suspected professional degrees of pilots of the PIA, the cabinet decided to start an evaluation process to check degrees of pilots and technical staff of all local airlines, including the national flag carrier.

Mr Faraz said 28 PIA pilots had been removed from their jobs for having fake degrees and the process of evaluation of others was underway.

He, however, said: “The pilots who have been cleared and flying planes are capable to meet international standards.”

Replying to a question on sale or privatisation of PIA assets, including Roosevelt Hotel in the US, the minister said the government was working on finding out a transparent way for effective utilisation of PIA assets.

The cabinet also decided to shift its focus from costly power projects to cost-effective projects like wind and solar energy projects. “Costly electricity projects were launched in the country in the past as a result people are suffering. We do not want to be cursed by coming generations by introducing costly power projects,” the information minister said.

Talking about “minus-one” formula the opposition has hinted at, the minister ruled out any possibility of it and said the government and the prime minister would complete their five-year term. “The PTI is because of Imran Khan and Imran Khan is not because of the PTI,” he said, adding that the opposition leaders raised such baseless issues to hide their corruption.

He also criticised PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for lambasting the prime minister and said: “Bilawal has no experience and awareness of ground realities in politics as he has just inherited it from his mother and grandfather. On the other hand Imran Khan has experienced everything during his 22-year political struggle.”

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020