PESHAWAR: The Ministry of State and Frontier Region (Safron) is keeping mum about the discrepancy of over Rs43 billion detected in the development funds for tribal areas despite several reminders of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the provincial assembly was told on Tuesday.

Winding up debate on an adjournment motion in the assembly over the fate of the missing funds, higher education minister Kamran Khan Bangash revealed that the provincial government had approached the Safron ministry thrice to seek details of the funds in question.

“After admission of the said adjournment motion, the inter-provincial coordination ministry sent three reminders to the Safron minister for sharing details of the funds, but the latter has yet to respond,” he said.

The minister said he was astonished to learn about the claim that such a huge amount had gone missing.

Minister denies irregularity, says security forces spending money transparently

He, however, denied any irregularity or misappropriation in the funds meant for development activities in the tribal districts.

“Rs43 billion is not a peanut to be disappeared,” he said, adding that the government would protect every single penny of its funds.

The minister said the standard procedure was that the Auditor General of Pakistan put observation paras and Public Accounts Committee or any other institution ordered the recovery of the funds found to be missing.

He said the security forces were spending funds transparently in development schemes and therefore, irregularities in funds was out of question.

Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Yasmin Orakzai and MPA Mir Kalam had pointed out discrepancy of over Rs43 billion in development funds allocated by the federal and provincial governments for new and ongoing projects in the tribal districts.

They had said the matter had come under discussion in the meeting of the Senate standing committee on Safron and that the records of Rs43 billion funds were missing from the budget of the tribal districts during the financial years 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Speaking on her motion, Ms Orakzai said funds allocated for development schemes were being misused and the people of the erstwhile Fata were deprived of their rights.

“Now, the time has come for the people of tribal districts to demand separate province for themselves. At least they will have their own chief minister, separate secretariat, and administration,” she said.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl member Hafiz Hissamuddin said the people of tribal districts were worst facing exploitation after their region’s merger with KP.

He said 32 health centres had been closed in South Waziristan tribal district after Fata-KP merger.

The lawmaker demanded investigation into the ‘misappropriation’ of funds.

Taking part in the discussion, Awami National Party MPA Sardar Hussain Babak said a major chunk of the development funds were spent through security forces before and after the merger of Fata with KP.

He said the elected representatives had been sidelined from the approval and allocation of funds for development projects in the tribal districts.

Earlier, lawmakers held a detailed discussion on the death of 22 people during a snowstorm. The house unanimously passed a resolution demanding of the federal government to take action against Murree’s hotel owners, who charged tourists heavy amounts for providing accommodation.

The resolution said the hoteliers and locals mistreated tourists stranded in the snowstorm.

Through another resolution, the house demanded of the provincial government to announce compensation package for the people, who suffered damages in the recent rains and snowfall. MPA of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Inayatullah Khan tabled the resolutions.

During discussion, the members praised the people of Galiyat for showing hospitality towards thousands of tourists, who were trapped in the snowstorm.

They said the residents upheld the local traditions by providing shelter, food and other assistance to the stranded people.

Lawmakers of both the treasury and opposition benches resented the suspension of gas supply to CNG stations in the province.

The house unanimously adopted a resolution of JUI-F member Naeema Kishwar demanding of the federal government to follow Article 158 of the Constitution and ensure the supply of gas to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers in KP, which produces surplus gas and oil.

The resolution said the Peshawar High Court had declared in 2010, “The province in which a well-head of natural gas is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day.”

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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