PESHAWAR: Opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday criticised the provincial government for ‘ignoring’ them during the allocation of funds for the next fiscal’s development schemes and insisted that most of the uplift funding would go to the constituencies of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s members in 2022-23.

They said all residents of the province paid equal taxes but those living in their (opposition lawmakers’) areas were largely discriminated against during the distribution of development schemes.

The session, which had Deputy Speaker Mehmood Jan in the chair, also concluded debate on the 2022-23 provincial budget.

MPA Samar Haroon Bilour of the opposition Awami National Party said the Annual Development Programme 2022-23 had a district wise disparity with a big chunk of funds going to MPAs of the ruling PTI.

House completes debate on 2022-23 budget

She said a paltry sum of Rs2.5 million funds had been reflected in the budget book for Kolai-Palas district, which was the most underdeveloped and faraway district of the province, while Swat, the native district of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, received the huge funding of Rs20.5 billion for development schemes.

She said Peshawar, which was the biggest city of the province, was also ignored in the next ADP as only Rs13.45 billion had been earmarked for its development.

MPA Ikhtiar Wali of the PML-N said constituencies of the opposition lawmakers were completely ignored by the government during the distribution of development funds for the next fiscal.

He said the government presented the budget just like the goods were sold online with the help of attractive pictures and titles.

“In reality, both (KP budget and online sale of goods) have nothing good for anyone,” he said.

The lawmaker said in the budget, the government had disclosed plans to establish five new universities in the province but allocated just Rs10,000 for the purpose.

He asked the chair if it was possible to establish five universities at the cost of Rs10,000.

Mr Wali asked the PTI leadership to ‘step out of the world of social media’, where massive prosperity and development was showed in the province though there’s nothing of the sort on ground.

He rejected the criticism of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over the recent increase in fuel prices and insisted that the last PM Imran Khan-led federal government had promised the International Monetary Fund an increase in fuel and gas prices.

The PML-N lawmaker also waved a copy of the agreement between the IMF and the Imran Khan government and said lawmakers should go through it if they’ve the ‘courage’ to know the truth.

Participating in the debate, Mehmood Bittani of the MMA said the lawmakers had an equal right to development schemes, which were executed with the help of money paid by taxpayers across the province.

Mr Bittani, who belongs to Tank district, said there was only one hospital in his district and its services, too, were not up to the mark.

He said the PTI had been ruling the province for nine years but had failed to ensure all necessary facilities in that hospital.

“Majority of patients brought to the ill-equipped hospital are referred to the hospitals in the adjacent Dera Ismail Khan district,” he said.

The opposition member alleged that former federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur, who was brother of provincial local government minister Faisal Amin Gandapur, had summoned the assistant director (LG) for Tank to his hujra and forced him to issue letters of appointment to 40 people. He alleged that the ‘associates’ of Gandapur brothers received Rs1 million bribe for the sinking of a tubewell in the area.

Pointing to the local government minister, who was in attendance, he said, “Is it your party’s Insaf (justice) to take illegal money for sinking tubewells?”

Winding up the budget debate, finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said KP had the debt liabilities of Rs330 billion only instead of Rs800 billion as claimed by the opposition lawmakers at different forum as well as media.

He said there was always room for improvement in development budget, so the house should have a thorough debate on it.

The chair adjourned the session until Wednesday (tomorrow).

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

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