PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday completed general discussion on the supplementary budget for the outgoing fiscal valuing Rs234 billion, including Rs170.26 billion current expenditure.
The opposition members expressed reservations about what they called a big chunk of unauthorised expenditure in the supplementary budget and demanded of the government to stop presenting the supplementary budget.
Taking part in the discussion, Awami National Party member Khushdil Khan advocate said it was unclear whether the government was seeking a supplementary or ‘excessive’ grant.
He said the government neither created a new department nor did it launch any mega project but even then, billions of rupees worth of the current expenditure were presented in the house for approval.
“Peshawar has been ignored in the new budget. The government has failed to announce any mega project for it,” he said demanding a major hospital for the provincial capital and resolution of the shortage of drinking water in its rural areas.
Opposition complains of ‘unauthorised’ expenditure
MPA Sardar Hussain Babak expressed displeasure over the supplementary budget and said it showed poor planning and a lack of governance on part of the government.
He said no man-made or natural calamity had occurred in the province, but the government sought over the approval of Rs170 billion current expenditure for the outgoing financial year.
He said the throw-forward liabilities had exceeded Rs800 billion, so there was no need for new schemes in the annual development programme.
Mr Babak said the provincial government had hired people on contract for promotion and projection of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf agenda, which was unfair. He said the government should not spend the taxpayers’ money on the promotion of the ruling party’s agenda.
MPA Shagufta Malik asked the government to reduce non-development expenditure including, the misuse of official vehicles. She said each officer had three to four vehicles, which were being used by his family members.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Sardar Yousaf complained that the government had ignored opposition during the last four years, and did not allocate funds for development schemes in their respective constituencies.
He said the foreign-funded greater water scheme had been reflected in the ADP, but the government had yet to approve this vital scheme.
Mr Yousaf hoped that the government would launch the scheme to help resolve the drinking water issue in Mansehra.
He welcomed the meeting between Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and a seven-member opposition committee and said Mr Mahmood listened to the grievances of the visitors and promised to accommodate their development schemes in the ADP.
The opposition appreciated the ‘goodwill gesture’ of the government saying it will promote healthy politics in the province.
In his concluding speech on the supplementary budget, finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said there was a big potential for reducing non-developmental expenditure in the budget.
He said the government had two options; either increase the revenue or control the current expenditure and that the amount could be diverted to development sectors and the benefit of the masses.
The minister said the government employees were given a 35 per cent increase in salaries last year, and a 30 per cent in the new budget.
He said the government had increased the revenue from Rs30 billion to Rs70 billion during the last three years.
Mr Jhagra said the government would have to take drastic steps to curtail non-developmental expenditure and for that purpose, they needed major reforms.
He said funds might not be available after 40 years with the government, if the pension system was not reformed.
The minister agreed with the opposition’s proposals for curtailing non-developmental expenditure.
He said he had directed the health department to provide the inventory of the official’s vehicles that had been pending for the last two years.
Mr Jhagra said the government should revise budgetary estimates on a quarterly basis.
Earlier, Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan lifted the ban on the entry of PML-N member Ikhtiar Wali to the house.
He had slapped the ban on last Friday for Monday and Tuesday after Mr Wali attempted to disrupt the chief minister’s speech in the house.
Accepting the request of the opposition and government, the chair withdrew the ban and directed the lawmaker to participate in the proceedings.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022