PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Friday refused to share details of the district-wise allocation of development funds with the provincial assembly, insisting that it is not possible for the department to furnish the sought-after information.
Responding to a question in the house, the minister also declined to produce details of development funds allocated to members of the National Assembly and Senate, saying the funds were released for projects and not to personalities.
Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal member Inayatullah Khan had sought a breakdown of funds allocated for the districts, including tribal ones, for development projects.
The MPA, through a supplementary question, also asked the government to share details of the funds provided to MNAs and senators for development projects in their respective constituencies.
Tells PA that finance dept’s ‘extensive mechanism doesn’t look into details of such allocations’
He complained that the department through written reply had provided sector-wise allocation of funds for development schemes, which, he believed, was the breach of the privilege of the august house.
In a supplementary question, Awami National Party MPA Bahadur Khan complained that an MNA of the ruling party in Upper Dir district had received Rs700 million allocations for development schemes but he (Mr Bahadur) didn’t get a single penny for the purpose.
The finance minister said his department had ‘its own extensive mechanism, which doesn’t look into details of the district-wise allocations of development funds’.
The opposition demanded asked Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, who chaired the sitting, to refer the question to the relevant committee, but the minister opposed it. The chair put the question to voting that suffered defeat.
MMA lawmaker Rehana Ismail said the province’s debt had totalled Rs97 billion before the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf formed government in the province.
She said the current government had borrowed Rs598.7 billion loans from foreign multilateral donors during the last four years.
The finance minister said the provincial government had set up the Debt Management Unit, which comprised professionals and oversaw debt-related matters.
He said KP’s domestic debt was zero with most of the loans being highly concessional with an ‘amortising repayment profile of 30-40 years with 5-10 years grace period’.
Mr Jhagra said the department would release fresh bulletin regarding the province’s debt soon.
He said mega development projects couldn’t be executed without large capital expenditure. The minister said the positive aspect of foreign-funded projects like Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit was the creation of jobs.
Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Yasmin Orakzai demanded of the government to increase salary package of the ombudsperson on harassment of women at workplace as well as MPAs.
She said the sitting ombudsperson received Rs200,000 salary every month, which was not enough, while the ombudspersons in Sindh and Punjab were paid more than Rs1.4 million salary per month.
Minister Jhagra said the recommendations of the special committee on increasing salary package of MPAs awaited the approval of the chief minister for implementation.
Also, unscheduled and excessive load shedding of electricity in Peshawar and other parts of the province echoed in the assembly with the provincial government blaming the federal government for extensive power outages.
On a point of order, PTI member Fazal Elahi complained that the Peshawar Electric Supply Company had begun carrying out 12-18 hours loadshedding daily in semi-urban and rural areas of Peshawar. He warned that if the Pesco didn’t improve power supply and curtail loadshedding until 10am on Saturday, the people would occupy four grid stations.
The finance minister endorsed his colleague’s point and said KP faced 1400MW power shortfall.
He said Punjab had almost been exempted from loadshedding with KP and Balochistan bearing the brunt.
Mr Jhagra said the federal government had increased power tariff three times in a month. He alleged that the federal government was inducting like-minded people in the board of directors of power distribution companies.
During the session, the government introduced the Agriculture Research Institute Reforms Bill, Food Fortification Bill, Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, Medical Relief Endowment Fund (Repeal) Bill and Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms (Amendment) Bill. The chair later adjourned the sitting until May 30.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022