KARACHI: Welcoming the federal cabinet’s directive to the provinces to form provincial finance commissions (PFCs), Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday to personally ensure that the funds released by the centre to the provinces should reach district level through PFC award.
Mr Kamal was referring to the prime minister’s directives that he had given while chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet on July 1 to provinces to immediately announce their PFC awards to ensure equal distribution of funds provided by the centre.
The PM had taken up the issue of “disparity” in distribution of funds among districts and, as Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz had told a post-cabinet press conference, he was of the view 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 also said it had been observed that most of development funds had been spent in the constituency of the chief minister of the province.
The PFCs were first constituted under former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf’s devolution of power system to allocate funds at the grass-root levels. However, in the process of funds’ allocation many critics said that the federal government bypassed the provincial governments and directly funded districts, thus making the role of the provinces ineffective. The PFCs have been lying dormant for about a decade.
“PSP is the only political party that has been demanding the establishment and launch of the PFC Award since the very day first,” Mr Kamal said in a statement. “We hope that this most important issue shall neither be stalled like other issues nor it will be kept as mere words.
Federal cabinet’s directive to provinces to set up PFCs welcomed
“We hope that the prime minister shall personally look after the formation of the provincial finance commissions in the ... interest of the people as the bodies are indispensable for the solutions of national level,” he added.
Referring to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where PM’s PTI is in power, the PSP chief said that the decision to announce the PFC award should be implemented immediately in the two provinces, while Sindh and Balochistan should be bound to constitute their respective PFCs.
He called upon the prime minister to ensure that the funds received by the provinces through the NFC award should be made conditional with the formation of the PFC award and the monetary resources should be transferred to the district level.
“The transfer of resources from the provinces to the districts should not be left at the discretion of any chief minister,” he said.
“This is what the PSP has been demanding that the NFC award be made conditional with the PFC award. All the districts should get resources from the provinces on the same formula under which the provinces get money from the federation,” he added.
It may be recalled that exactly one year ago, on July 3, 2019, the Sindh Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution asking the provincial government to immediately constitute a provincial finance commission for the distribution of fiscal resources to the local governments in the province.
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020