PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra on Thursday claimed that the centre had asked the province not to utilise Rs117 billion funds allocated for development schemes in the province.

“The federal government, through a letter, has asked our [KP] government to sign a memorandum of understanding to stop spending Rs117 billion,” the minister said waving a piece of paper in the provincial assembly.

He said the provincial government won’t sign that MoU.

Mr Jhagra said he thought that the International Monetary Fund was unaware of the federal government’s move.

Minister says provincial government won’t sign sought-after MoU

He urged both the treasury and opposition to table a joint resolution in the house against the centre for asking the province to surrender that huge amount.

Speaking on multiple cut motions, the minister said if the PTI government signed the MoU, then the development projects in the province would seize to exist.

The minister did not give further details of the MoU.

He also said the federal government was not willing to provide Rs5 billion for tribal districts.

Mr Jhagra demanded that the federal government release funds for Sehat Card and other development schemes in the erstwhile Fata.

He asked the opposition benches to ask their coalition government in the centre to call a meeting on the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award to discuss allocation of three per cent share for tribal districts, AGN Qazi formula, and 2017 census.

Highlighting the achievements of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government during the last nine years in the province, Mr Jhagra said over a 100 million people used the Bus Rapid Transit service in Peshawar during the last two years.

He said the government would not increase the commuters’ financial woes by withdrawing a subsidy of the BRT.

Another achievement of the PTI government, the minister said that was the provision of Sehat Card to 40 million people in the province and around eight million families had benefitted from the healthcare card system. He said that mega projects could be executed through a public-private partnership. He said the Swat Expressway had been constructed under the public-private partnership, while work on the Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway would also be completed under the same formula.

Earlier, the opposition MPAs criticised Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for not attending meetings of the National Economic Council and other constitutional forums.

Speaking on his cut motion, Awami National Party member Khushdil Khan advocate said those were very important forums but unfortunately, the provincial government was represented by a bureaucrat.

He said the federal government would not release funds to the province if the chief minister did not show his presence at such forums.

Pakistan Peoples Party member Ahmad Kundi endorsed Khushdil Khan and said the chief minister had distanced himself from the centre by not attending the NEC and other meetings. “The province will suffer if the chief executive does not participate in such meetings,” he said, adding that the province was already deprived of its due rights.

Speaking on his cut motion, Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani said the PTI government had borrowed over Rs3.87 trillion worth of loans.

He said the province’s debts totalled Rs87 billion when the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal was in power.

Mr Durrani said the new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau would take charge of the office within two weeks and that he would start inquiries in projects like BRT and Billion Tree Tsunami, one of the flagship projects of the PTI government.

He said the PTI government had failed to get the Chashma Right Bank Uplift Canal project included in the federal PSDP during the last four years.

The opposition leader said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had to his credit the inclusion of the canal project in the PSDP, which would make the province self-sufficient in food.

He said that the KP government’s total share in the project was 35 per cent.

Mr Durrani said the opposition members would not withdraw their cut motions.

Earlier, the opposition leader flayed the ‘antagonistic’ attitude of the chair, Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, towards members of the opposition parties and asked him to mend his ways.

He urged the chair to give appropriate time to the opposition members to comment on express their views on the next budget.

The deputy speaker said he wouldn’t accept dictation, so no one should try to pressure him.

He said the assembly proceedings would be conducted according to the rules and that the budget should be passed by the assembly before June 30. The chair’s remarks caused a commotion in the house with the opposition members shouting slogans.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2022

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