PESHAWAR: Opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday said as its constitutional obligation, the provincial government should submit biannual reports on the status of the implementation of the National Finance Commission Award to the house.

During the budget session chaired by Speaker Babar Saleem Swati, the opposition members complained that the issue was raised during the presentation of the 2023–24 budget, and the government promised to present that reports, but the promise had yet to be fulfilled.

Ahmad Kundi of the Pakistan Peoples Party said under Article 163(A) of the Constitution, both federal and provincial finance ministers should monitor the implementation of the NFC Award and lay reports about it in assemblies.

“This has to happen twice a year under the Constitution, but we haven’t seen this for years,” he complained.

Insists Peshawar BRT has become white elephant

The lawmaker said he would withdraw his cut motion if the provincial government informed the house about the action taken on that issue and when the NFC Award reports would be shared with it.

Finance minister Aftab Alam Afridi requested the chair to put off discussion on the matter, saying the government will be in “a better position to respond after a while.”

While tabling a cut motion for the general administration’s funds, the opposition members criticised the administration of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad for refusing accommodation to them.

They insisted that bureaucracy had occupied the rooms meant for MPAs.

“We struggle to book rooms in the KP House just because bureaucrats and their family members have occupied them,” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Sobia Shahid said.

She said lawmakers were denied a stay in the KP House beyond three days.

“The Speaker should amend the rules and extend the duration of our stay there,” she said.

Adnan Khan of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl raised questions about the entitlement of bureaucrats to official vehicles and fuel for them.

The finance minister said ministers were entitled to 390 litres of fuel every month after its reduction from 600 litres.

He also said that MPAs were preferred for stays at the KP House.

The opposition members also complained that the people in the areas producing natural gas were denied gas connections. They alleged that the gas produced in the province was supplied to Punjab.

The lawmakers called the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project a white elephant and said the bus service was heavily subsidised.

They complained about the announcement of Rs3 billion subsidy for BRT in the fiscal year 2024–25.

The finance minister said the annual BRT subsidy had been reduced from Rs6.7 billion to Rs3 billion, and once the remaining work on the project was completed, the bus service would become self-sustainable.

He said the chief minister had already announced that the pay raise announcement by the provincial government would be more than the federal government’s.

Lawmaker Adnan Khan complained about the absence of ministers and administrative secretaries of the relevant departments from the session and said the government was not serious about the resolution of people’s issues.

The speaker directed administrative secretaries to ensure their presence in the next sitting and said if they’re busy with official duties, then they should inform the house in writing and send in additional secretaries of their departments.

He later put off the session until 2pm today (Thursday).

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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