QUETTA: Treasury and opposition benches in the Balochistan Assembly have protested the federal government’s unsympathetic attitude towards the flood-hit province in resolving its financial and other issues despite repeated requests for the release of Rs50 billion as the province’s share in the National Finance Commission award.

Asking the Balochistan government to hold ‘final’ talks with Islamabad, the lawmakers on Wednesday expressed their astonishment over the federal minister’s statement regarding handing over power supply companies to the provinces and demanded that the federal government should hand over Reko Diq, Gwadar port and gas company rather than Qesco to the province.

Balochistan Finance Minister Zamrak Khan Piralizai while taking up the financial crisis deplored the Centre’s attitude during the session, which was presided over by Speaker Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali.

The finance minister said the Centre had not yet paid Rs50bn to Balochistan in account of its share in the NFC award. He said the federal government did nothing to resolve financial issues despite repeated requests to federal ministers and officials about the challenges and rehabilitation of flood survivors. “Not a single rupee was given to Balochistan from the foreign aid received by the federal government,” he said.

Similarly, he said, “They are not ready to increase our National Assembly seats due to the fear that we would demand our rights.”

He said members of the house were aware of the little resources the finance department had and the provincial government’s efforts to receive some funds from the federal government. “We are going through a very difficult situation and were facing serious situation to cover our PSDP,” the minister said, recalling that government employees had not been paid their salaries for the month of January.

The minister said a 15-member delegation went to Islamabad and held meetings with federal defence minister Khawaja Asif and energy minister Khurram Dastgir to discuss the issues the province has been facing. But when the delegation suggested to them to hand over gas distribution, Gwadar port and Reko Diq to the province instead of the power company, the defence minister left the meeting stating that he had to attend a meeting with the prime minister.

Feeling piqued by his lack of interest, the minister said that the Centre completely ignored the delegation from Balochistan. In the PTI government, too, Balochistan had demanded solarisation of tube wells in the province but to no avail, he recalled.

Mr Piralizai expressed the fear that underfunded projects would be abandoned.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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