QUETTA: The Balochistan government will not be able to prepare “a balanced budget” as the province was in distress because Islamabad had been “consistently ignoring our financial needs and demands”, Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo said on Sunday.
“We won’t attend the coming meeting of the National Economic Council if Islamabad does not fulfil its promises,” Mr Bizenjo said.
“It is useless to sit in a forum which does not take seriously the suggestions given by the provincial government for resolving Balochistan’s financial and other problems.”
The NEC is the highest forum to take decisions about needs and requirements of the provinces.
Balochistan’s backwardness cannot be cured without the federal government’s help and cooperation, the chief minister said.
“The federal government’s indifference to the province’s grievances has become intolerable,” he added.
Mr Bizenjo said Balochistan was simply demanding its constitutional rights as a federating unit.
Not a single development project suggested by the Balochistan government was included in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) last year and no funds were released for the development projects falling within the purview of CPEC despite issuance of tenders, Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo further said.
He recalled the prime minister had announced grants totalling Rs10 billion for rehabilitation of the victims of last year’s floods, regretting that no money had been released so far.
“The flood victims are still waiting for their rehabilitation, but the provincial government has no resources to rehabilitate them.”
The chief minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif “is not giving us time” to discuss these issues despite many requests by the Balochistan government.
The announcement of the National Finance Commission Award is mandatory, but the delay in its announcement was aggravating the province’s misery, Mr Bizenjo said.
He said although the Balochistan Awami Party was an ally of the PDM-led government, the federal government’s attitude vis-à-vis the province was discriminatory.
Mr Bizenjo called upon the parties having representation in the federal government to take up “Balochistan’s issues with the prime minister and other authorities concerned”.
Chief Minister Bizenjo, however, claimed that the percentage of development funds available with the province was better than those of other provinces and if “we weare given our full share in the National Finance Commission Award, we would have conducted our development process in a better way”. Referring to the National Finance Commission award, the BAP chief said Balochistan was given its share in NFC award in accord with the 1998 census, but since the situation was not good at the time, the count suffered and, consequently, “our share turned out to be lower than what would be available in normal times”.
He said Balochistan should be given its share in NFC award in keeping with the census figures for the 2017 and 2023 exercises.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023