PESHAWAR: Leader of the Opposition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Akram Khan Durrani on Monday alleged that the provincial government had tried to show a deficit budget as the surplus one by fudging figures.
Opening the debate on the 2021-22 provincial budget during a session chaired by Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Mr Durrani said the revenues estimates reflected in the budget documents were unrealistic and that they all would be revised downward to the end of the upcoming financial year.
He said last year, the government unveiled the Rs316 billion annual development programme but reduced its value to Rs249 billion afterward.
The opposition leader said the budget also showed that the province’s revenue collection in the outgoing year was Rs152 billion less than the projected one.
Akram Durrani claims deficit budget showed as surplus one
He said the production of fudged figures was tantamount to breaching the assembly’s sanctity.
Mr Durrani asked the speaker for the verification of budget figures through his secretary to learn about the truth.
He criticised the government for what he called constantly slashing funds allocated for the constituencies of the opposition members in the name of revised budgetary estimates.
The opposition leader demanded an immediate end to the government’s ‘stepmotherly’ attitude to the of opposition members.
He said discrimination during the allocation of development budget had forced lawmakers to record protest at all available forums and request the Peshawar High Court for justice.
“The provincial government is not doing justice to the merged tribal districts as it spent a meagre share of the allocated budget and transferred the rest to the development of settled districts,” he said.
Mr Durrani demanded of the government and speaker to amend the relevant law to ensure that the funds released for tribal districts shouldn’t lapse or shouldn’t be withdrawn in case of their non-utilisation during the special period.
PPP member Sher Azam Wazir declared the next budget a letdown saying it has brought no relief to the people badly hit by unprecedented price hike and joblessness.
He said the residents had an equal right to the province’s revenue but the government allocated funds only for the constituencies of the lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
“The government thinks that the people in the opposition members’ constituencies don’t need education, healthcare and roads,” Mr Wazir said complaining about discrimination in the funds allocation.
He said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had repeatedly promised the opposition lawmakers that they won’t be ignored in the distribution of funds, but the promise remained unfulfilled.
The MPA said a couple of southern districts faced an acute shortage of drinking water and needed irrigation system but the provincial government had ignored them in the new budget.
Participating in the debate, JUI-F member Maulana Lutfur Reham said finance minister Taimur Jhagra had presented ‘good’ figures in the budget speech to please the people.
He said the government had allocated Rs316 billion for the annual development programme in the outgoing fiscal year but spent only 53 per cent of them i.e. Rs159 billion.
“A huge amount has been reflected in the name of ‘block allocation’ in the new budget that will be utilised on the government’s likes and dislikes,” PML-N member Sardar Yousaf said.
He said the funding discriminations had made the people raise voices for new provinces.
The lawmaker said poverty, joblessness and prices had been increasing since the PTI formed the government in the province three years ago.
Labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai and MPAs Khushdil Khan, Inayatullah Khan and Hafiz Hissamudin also participated in the budget debate.
The chair adjourned the session until today (Tuesday).
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2021