PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Tuesday urged opposition members of the provincial assembly to support his PTI-led government on the demand for the release of its “due funds withheld” by the government of their parties in the centre.

In the provincial assembly’s session, the minister also announced that he would take up the denial of share in the federal tax revenues, the halt to development funds for tribal areas, and delays in the net hydel profit payments with the federal finance and planning ministers next week.

“If the centre is bent on denying allocated funds to us [KP], how we will arrange money for our development,” Mr Jhagra told the sitting during question hour.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani presided over the session.

Members complain about shortage of doctors in public sector hospitals

The minister said out of a total of Rs55 billion allocations, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration had released just Rs5.5 billion development funds for tribal districts in the first five months of the current fiscal.

He, however, said despite the funding denial by the centre, the provincial government had spent Rs8 billion to develop the war-torn region.

Mr Jhagra complained that instead of releasing funds to the province, the centre had promised to spend funds through MNAs of the ruling coalition.

He, however, said he was sure that the federal government would deny development funds to MNAs just like it did to the provincial government.

The opposition members, including Mian Nisar Gul of the JUI-F, Sardar Aurangzaib Nalotha of the PML-N and Humaira Khatton of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, through their questions, criticised the provincial government over the shortage of doctors in public sector hospitals in their respective areas and insisted that the health department was not taking the matter seriously.

The health minister told them that the government hadn’t barred the health department from providing doctors to the understaffed hospitals.

“Lawmakers cannot work in executive positions of government offices as the system of administration is very complicated,” he said.

Mr Jhagra said that it was the failure of the government not to “simplify” that system.

He said that he had requested the chief minister and chief secretary to devolve the maximum possible powers of the health department to the director-general (health services), who was a medical doctor and understood the issues well for resolution.

In a written reply to a question of ANP member from Mohmand tribal district Nisar Ahmad Khan, the home department informed the house that no payment had been made to the police officials performing security duties during the anti-polio campaigns in the region as the relevant federal authorities didn’t release funds for the purpose to the province.

In his supplementary question, the opposition lawmaker said that the provincial government had sufficient funds to provide its helicopters for the ruling PTI’s rallies and arrange social media training to a large number of people but had miserably failed to provide due share to police constables protecting polio vaccinators in the province.

During the session, the finance minister tabled a proposed amendment to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act, 2012, for the establishment of a university in Hangu district.

The passage of the bill by the assembly and its subsequent approval by the governor will take the number of public sector universities in the province to 33.

The house also approved several amendments to the Bank of Khyber Act, 1991.

The chair later adjourned the session until next Friday.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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