BALOCHISTAN Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo’s claim that his province is facing a financial crunch due to a large shortfall in its share from the federal divisible tax pool is debatable. He told reporters on Wednesday that the federal government hadn’t disbursed even a tenth of the province’s share in the first quarter of the present fiscal year under the NFC award. However, the report on the federal fiscal operations during the period between July and September shows that Islamabad has already transferred nearly Rs83bn or a quarter of its estimated share from the tax pool. He has further contended that the federal government also owed Rs40bn to Balochistan in outstanding arrears on account of gas royalties, warning that his government would not be in a position to pay salaries to its employees if it didn’t get its full share under the NFC. Islamabad should clarify the exact situation regarding his claims to explain its position.
Mir Bizenjo’s concerns over the alleged shortfall in the NFC and straight transfers are understandable. His party’s lawmakers and others who helped topple his predecessor and crown him chief minister are apparently demanding their reward. In fact, all ruling parties in the provinces want to divert the maximum resources for development works to please the voters as the next general elections are not very far away. Unless called earlier, the elections are scheduled for next October, and the provincial governments are left with just seven months to complete development schemes before the parliamentary term ends. No wonder Mir Bizenjo’s administration, as stated by the CM, has already released Rs70bn for schemes under its annual development programme for the present year and wants more money to give the CM’s party legislators. On top of pressure from party lawmakers, he is also under pressure from the flood victims to help them in the rehabilitation process. How much help the cash-strapped federal government facing immense pressure from the IMF to cut its deficits can extend to Mir Bizenjo and the province is anybody’s guess.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022