PESHAWAR: After the extension of the Sehat Sahulat Programme to the entire population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Saturday announced the start of the Education Card System to enrol deserving students from economically disadvantaged families in the country’s top educational institutions.
“Many brilliant children are left out of good educational institutions due to poverty, so the provincial government will launch the Education Card Scheme to benefit them,” the chief minister told the provincial assembly’s budget session in a policy statement here on Saturday.
The house passed the Rs1.118 trillion budget for the next financial year, 2021-22, after the opposition members withdrew their cut motions.
A total of 64 demands for grants were passed by the assembly after the treasury reached an understanding with the opposition, which unanimously withdrew their cut motions.
The house also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Bill, 2021, which was moved by finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra.
Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani chaired the sitting.
PA passes Rs1.118tr budget for next fiscal as opposition members withdraw cut motions
For the first time since his election as the chief minister in Aug 2018, Mr Mahmood spoke at length in the assembly.
He defended his government’s actions and highlighted its achievements in different sectors amid the thumping of desks by his colleagues.
The chief minister highlighted the launching of mega projects, including Chashma Right Bank Canal, construction of Tank-Zam dam and major expressways, and establishment of nine economic zones in the province.
In the lengthy speech, he gave a stern warning to all lawbreakers, including encroachers and land grabbers, in the province.
“There is no place for encroachers, drug traffickers, smugglers and other law breakers in this province. My government will take action against them,” he said.
The chief minister said his government would amend the laws and rules if the need emerged and it had majority in the assembly.
He said the rich and powerful people were involved in encroachment.
“I don’t spare even the people sitting in this assembly, including myself, over encroachments as the poor people can’t think about unlawful act,” he said.
Mr Mahmood said his government had begun a crackdown on encroachers in Bannu and Swat districts and would go after encroachers in other parts of the province.
He came down heavily on Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani, who was not present in the house, for speaking against sitting additional chief secretary Shahab Ali Shah and ‘scandalising’ his position in the assembly.
“The opposition leader has no right to insult a senior officer on the floor of the house. Pakhtun traditions don’t allow anyone to discuss someone’s personal life in this forum. Being the chief executive of the province, it is my obligation to defend my officers,” he said.
The chief minister credited to the ACS for the completion of the multibillion rupees BRT project and preparing the province’s record over Rs1 trillion budget.
Akram Durrani has been criticising the ACS, who belongs to his home Bannu district, in the assembly besides levelling serious allegations against him and other senior officers of the district administration since the launch of an anti-encroachment campaign there.
The chief minister said his government won’t make any compromise on the financial and constitutional rights of the province and issues like net hydel profit proceeds on account of electricity generation in the province and National Finance Commission Award.
He assured the opposition that all important issues of the province were being taken up with the centre and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed in principal that the province would regularly receive Rs3 billion shares on account of NHP every month.
Mr Mahmood said after the launch of the National Census Report, 2017, the NFC would be updated very soon.
He said the province would receive other dues within two month as the federal government had already granted approval for the purpose.
The chief minister said the government would involve the opposition and seek its support if the need arose.
He said his government had converted the outbreak of Covid-19 and dengue and the locust attack into opportunities for progress through better planning.
Mr Mahmood said the country’s growth rate was four per cent despite the pandemic that devastated the world economy.
He said another major challenge for the PTI government was the accomplishment of the Fata-KP merger plan.
“The size of the annual development programme for the merged tribal districts has been increased from Rs24 billion to Rs60 billion, while the people of the former Fata have got equal representation in the provincial assembly,” he said.
The chief minister said the land settlement records were being digitised.
He said patwaris were being selected through the Educational Testing and Evolution Agency to ensure transparency in recruitment.
Mr Mahmood disclosed that the PhD holders and women were applying for the posts of patwari.
He said the system was going toward E-digitisation to ensure transparency and that after introduction of E-tendering and E-billing, E-work order was launched to remove all loopholes in the system.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2021