PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Monday said the province wasn’t going to default on loans despite a financial crisis.

He also disclosed that the payment of the September salary to government employees in the province had begun following the Rs30 billion due tax payments by the centre.

The minister told reporters here that the province had been facing a Rs50-Rs60 billion funding shortage since April this year when the PTI-led federal government was ousted.

“We [KP government] are short of Rs8.5 billion on account of development budget for the last quarter of 2021-22, Rs 12 billion for the tribal districts current budget, Rs18-Rs30 billion on account of net hydel profit and Rs9-Rs10 billion on account of merged districts salary and non-development expenses of tribal districts during the current year. If Rs50-Rs60 billion is paid, there won’t be any financial crisis in our province,” he said.

Minister says payment of Sept salary to govt employees begins

Mr Jhagra said his government was taking several measures to address the funds’ shortage and they included development programme cuts.

He said the PTI-led federal government had paid KP Rs68 billion as net hydel profit but since its ouster, not a single penny had been received by the province on that account.

The minister said the funding delay by the federal government was the reason for the province’s current financial issues.

He said the province’s losses from the recent flash floods totalled around Rs124.3 billion, while compensation payment alone would cost Rs25.3 billion.

Mr Jhagra said reconstruction and other flood-related activities would be carried out in the next two years but the people needed early payments to resume normal life.

“We [KP] have earmarked Rs10 billion from our own resources for compensation payments,” he said.

The minister said there should be no politics over the budget for tribal districts and both the centre and province should come up with a solution to the issue amicably.

He complained that PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, after becoming the federal finance minister lately, didn’t increase the petroleum development levy in violation of the loan agreement Pakistan made with the International Monetary Fund.

“Mr Dar’s Pakistani currency control moves has raised question if the autonomy of the State Bank of Pakistan is going to be practically or legally reversed. Both the PDL and SBP issues are likely to adversely affect loan deal with the IMF,” he said.

Mr Jhagra said former federal finance minister Miftah Ismail had also declared Mr Dar’s decision of not imposing petroleum development levy for the next fortnight ‘reckless’.

He blamed the delay in salary payment to employees of the provincial government on the delayed funding transfer by the federal government.

“The centre released around Rs30 billion tranche of the ‘federal tax assignment’ to KP on Friday, so disbursement of salary to the employees began today [Monday],” he said.

Regarding the visit of Awami National Party provincial president Aimal Wali Khan to the Edwardes College Peshawar, higher education minister Kamran Bangash, who was also in attendance, said there was no restriction of anyone’s visit to the campus.

“Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah visited the college twice during the British Raj, while Bacha Khan and Mahatma Gandhi, too, went there,” he said adding that the people were free to the Edwardes College.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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