PESHAWAR: A week after the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) budget was presented to the provincial assembly, lawmakers have managed to approve less than one per cent of the total spending outlay.
On Friday, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly approved grants of up to Rs2.2 billion under three demands for different departments after a speech by Provincial Finance Minister Muhammad Humayun Khan.
To catch up with the schedule and wind-up the budget debate, the meeting was held at 10am ahead of the scheduled time of 5pm.
The demands included Rs79.5 million for the assembly itself, Rs1.4 million for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa establishment and development department and Rs0.6 billion for the finance department.
One demand, presented in the house by Pakistan Peoples Party Sherpao’s Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, was put to vote for after he refused to withdraw it.
Earlier, in the debate, the finance minister said: “The ongoing budget is very balanced. The estimated budget was Rs249 billion but the revised budget touched Rs254 billion with a Rs5 billion increase.”
“When the government came into power, it was given Rs10 billion and after investing in treasury bills with profit, the amount is now Rs30 billion,” said Khan, responding to members’ queries about net hydel profits. “As per the federal government’s suggestion, the provincial government allocated Rs25 billion for development. Utilising this money in development schemes, targets have been achieved in one-and-a-half years instead of three years.”
Highlighting subjects under the provincial government’s domain, Khan said that even though the 18th amendment had given provinces the right to collect General Sales Tax (GST), except Sindh, all provinces had given back this authority to the federal government due to a weak taxation structure.
Speaking of provincial subjects, he also added that Capital Gains Tax (CGT) should be with the provinces and the provincial government will take the issue to the federal government.
In the assembly, Khan also answered many questions about ongoing development projects and their progress.
When a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmaker disclosed that the Balambat Irrigation Scheme was still incomplete, Khan said that investigation into the matter will be started immediately.
Earlier, ruling Awami National Party’s Bashir Bilour and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) lawmaker Mufti Kafayatullah had claimed in the house that the scheme was complete.
On this issue, PPP’s Zameen Khan said that the bureaucracy was not respecting the assembly by providing it with misleading information.
In reply, Speaker Kiramatullah Chigarmati said that the standing committee on agriculture will investigate the matter.
Similarly, Khan said that construction on both phases of the Hazara Expressway (E-35) was in progress. However, the second phase which would connect Havelian to Mansehra was delayed due to army’s refusal to build a highway near Kakul.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Sardar Aurangzeb Nalhuta in his speech asked the government to suspend the Association for Development of Pakistan (ADP) and divert all funds to power generation. Nalhuta also called for starting work on Hazara Expressway.
In his speech, PPP Excise and Taxation Minister Liaqat Shahab denied PML-N lawmaker Shazia Aurangzeb’s accusations that he had shifted a heavy transformer from Kheshgi area to Kohat. Shahab defended himself by saying that he had done so on orders of Governor Masood Kausar.
The session was adjourned till 10am on Monday.
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