PESHAWAR: The caretaker government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has decided to take up the financial issues of the province, especially those of its tribal districts, with the caretaker prime minister for corrective measures.
The decision was made in a meeting chaired by caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Arshad Hussain Shah here, according to an official statement.
The participants included chief secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry, inspector general of police Akhtar Hayat Khan Gandapur, additional chief secretary (planning and development) Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah, additional chief secretary (home) Mohammad Abid Majeed, senior member of the Board of Revenue Ikramullah Khan, finance secretary Aamir Sultan Tareen and other relevant officials.
Provincial minister for tribal affairs Amer Abdullah attended the meeting via video link.
Officials briefed the meeting about the province’s current financial situation and said that the administrative merger of the erstwhile Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had been completed but its “financial integration” with the province was incomplete causing financial problems for the provincial government.
They also said that commitments made with the province at the time of the Fata’s merger with it were not being fulfilled, badly affecting the overall development of the merged tribal districts.
Officials also told the meeting that the province was not getting its due share in various federal transfers causing a financial crunch for the provincial government.
They said that with the merger of the erstwhile Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the population of the province had increased but the share of the province in the National Finance Commission Award hadn’t been increased accordingly.
The officials added that the province’s share in the NFC Award needed to be updated to enable it to claim the due funding.
They said that under the existing population after the Fata-KP merger, the province’s share in the National Finance Commission Award came to 19.64 per cent of the total but it was getting 14.62 per cent only.
The officials also said that the provincial government required Rs142 billion annually for the current expenditure of tribal districts but the federal government had allowed just Rs66 billion for the purpose in the current fiscal year causing a deficit of Rs76 billion in terms of that current expenditure.
They said that commitments made by the federal government with regard to the speedy development of tribal districts at the time of merger had not yet been fulfilled.
The meeting was told that a commitment was made by the centre to provide a sum of Rs19.7 billion for strengthening of the police in tribal districts but that had yet to be fulfilled.
Regarding net hydel profit payments to be made by the centre to the province, the officials said the federal government had to clear the provincial government’s around Rs88 billion dues, which were in addition to Rs50 billion payments not made under the head of the windfall levy on oil.
Addressing participants, the chief minister said that merged tribal districts needed special attention for their development and resolution of their decades-long deprivations but insufficient funding of the federal government had caused slow development work in the region.
He, however, said that his government would make all-out efforts to steer the province out of the financial crisis.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023