PESHAWAR: Caretaker Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Azam Khan on Wednesday said he would speak to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration about a delay in payments to the province.

“Financial matters of the province related to the federation will be taken up at the federal level. Every possible effort will be made to get the due rights and share of the province [in resources],” Mr Khan told a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House here, according to an official statement.

The participants included chief secretary Dr Shehzad Bangash, additional chief secretary Ikramullah, principal secretary to the chief minister Amjad Ali Khan, and officials of the finance and planning departments.

The chief minister also ordered the implementation of the government’s austerity policy saying the government is in no position to afford unnecessary and unjustified use of available resources.

Orders austerity steps saying govt can’t afford unjustified use of resources

Officials told him that the provincial government faced problems due to a delay in the release of funds under various heads by the federal government besides the nonpayment of net hydel profit by the federal government.

They said the centre owed billions of rupees to the province but their payment was delayed adversely affecting development and public welfare activities in the province, especially in tribal districts.

The participants discussed various matters about the current economic conditions and financial situation of the province with a special focus on the budgeted transfers withheld by the federal government.

The meeting was told that the federal government had allocated a grant of Rs60 billion only for newly-merged tribal districts for the fiscal year 2022-23 against the minimum current budget requirement of Rs89.5 billion for salary and non-salary expenditure.

Officials said that Rs50 billion had been allocated for development projects in tribal districts and of those allocations, only Rs5.5 billion was released in the first six months of the ongoing financial year.

They also said that the province’s share in the National Finance Commission Award was being declined by the centre, while the payment of Rs61.89 billion on account of net hydel profit was also due.

The officials said the actual own source revenue of the province had more than doubled in the last three years but it was not enough to meet its needs and that the province depended mostly on the federal transfers to manage its affairs.

On Dec 12, 2022, the then chief minister, Mahmood Khan, had told a news conference in Islamabad that his government had written several letters to the federal government about its financial issues and sought their resolution but received no response.

He had also insisted that the dues to be paid by the centre to the province totalled Rs189 billion in Dec 2022.

According to him, the current budget for tribal districts is Rs60 billion against the requirement of Rs85 billion. “The KP government is also being deprived of Rs4.5 billion set aside for the Sehat Card programme in tribal districts and Rs17 billion for displaced persons,” the former chief minister told reporters.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2023

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