Post-devolution, the centre is adamant, and will have none of the provinces’ pleas.
Despite Balochistan’s request that the province is worse-off financially after the National Finance Commission award and the 18th Amendment, the federal government has refused to take financial liability, worth Rs1.15 billion, to run a project that aims to develop the mining industry in Balochistan.
Mining is a provincial subject
The altercation took place at a meeting of the Central Development Working Party of the Planning Commission on October 21, 2011, when the centre was asked to bear financial liability for the ‘establishment of provincial training centre for mine workers and emergency response training Quetta.’
The province was told that since the mineral sector is a provincial subject, after enhancing the share of provincial governments in the latest NFC award, the project could not be funded out of the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
After the 18th Amendment, there is a constitutional bar that does not allow for the funding of provincial projects out of the federal PSDP.
Representative of the historically-disadvantaged and least-developed province of the country, Balochistan, said the province was worse-off financially after the fall in federal funding, following the NFC award and 18th Amendment.
A Planning Commission representative suggested that given the importance of the project, the federal ministry of petroleum and natural resources may allocate funds out of their own budgetary share to implement it.
The suggestion, however, was shot down by the ministry of petroleum representative, citing ‘paucity of funds,’ according to documents available with The Express Tribune.
The representative proposed, instead, that the project should be reflected in the provincial annual development programme of Baluchistan government and USAID may directly release the funds to the provincial government through the Economic Affairs Division, without involving the petroleum ministry.
The project was subsequently recommended at a cost of Rs1.15 billion, with a foreign exchange component of Rs805 million, subject to the condition that the federal government would bear no financial liability and the entire funding of the project would be provided by USAID and the government of Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.
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