Discretionary spending: Despite ban, premier diverts another Rs1.2b from flood fund

Published: January 29, 2013

The diversion of flood assistance will also irk donors, particularly foreign ones, who often complain of misuse of their money. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Despite an election commission ban, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has diverted another chunk of Rs1.2 billion – this time out of the flood donation fund – towards constituencies of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senior leaders in a bid to lure voters just as elections approach.

This latest move is likely to lead to another controversy after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had banned the re-appropriation of development funds for discretionary spending by the premier in his choice of constituencies. The ECP had described such practices “pre-poll rigging” and consequently frozen the transfer of all funds.

The diversion of flood assistance will also irk donors, particularly foreign ones, who often complain of misuse of their money.

The recent transfer has been made out of the 2011 flood donations and major foreign contributors that year were the US, China, Japan and Iran.

The premier took the decision on a request sent by the Cabinet Division – the body overseeing the local and international donations – according to sources in the division. Sources revealed that the Cabinet Division sent the summary on the recommendations of a steering committee for projects to be funded from the PM’s Flood Relief Fund of 2011.

The steering committee consists of federal secretaries and representatives of the PM’s Secretariat, including Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi who also wears the cap of secretary for water and power.

The cabinet division secretary was not available for comment. The spokesperson for the cabinet division, Omar Hameed Khan, was also not available for comment.

In his latest move, the premier has approved Rs200 million for the constituency of National Assembly Speaker Dr Fahmida Mirza, Rs150 million for National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Rs250 million for Minister for Religious Affairs Khursheed Shah, a sum of Rs150 million for Minister for Defence Naveed Qamar, Rs100 million for Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Rs100 million for MNA Munawar Talpur (husband of the president’s sister Faryal Talpur), Rs100 million for MNA Nawab Yousuf Talpur and Rs130 million for MNA Amir Ali Magsi, who was elected from Larkana.

Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Shafqat Jalil confirmed to The Express Tribune that Ashraf has given the go-ahead, sanctioning funds out of the PM’s Flood Relief Fund. He said schemes have been identified in the flood-affected areas for each allocation.

This may be all well and good, but the money is being set aside for flood schemes one and a half years after the devastation. This delay and coincidence of the upcoming general elections underscore the use of these donations for political purposes. Moreover, the funds have been allocated only to PPP parliamentarians and with the orders to use them within a month, highlighting the urgency given that the polls are just around the corner.

Meanwhile, the dedicated department responsible for carrying out flood relief work is in the dark about these developments. The PM’s Flood Relief Fund is being managed by the Cabinet Division and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) does not play any formal role in how it is allocated, said NDMA chief Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir. He added, however, that the NDMA actively worked with Rs2 billion, sanctioned by the premier in the areas hit in 2012 by the natural disaster.

This is not the first time that Ashraf has used public money for political gain. After spending an annual allocation of Rs22 billion in just three-and-a-half months, the PM was given another Rs15 billion by the finance ministry that slashed the budget of ongoing projects.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim recently banned the re-appropriation of funds for discretionary spending by the PM after glaring irregularities were highlighted in the media.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Padishah
    Jan 29, 2013 - 3:35AM

    SC should rule the funds diversion as unconstitutional and ask the army to manage the funding and elections with the Judiciary closely working together. Without this PPP is going to steal the elections and no one will be able to do anything after illegal balloting has been counted. So much for all the rhetoric of PTI, Qadri, PMLN and the rest of the motley crew.

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  • Nasir Abbas
    Jan 29, 2013 - 3:47AM

    This a clear pre poll rigging. CEC and The Supreme Court to take notice and stop transfer. Action be taken against PM and barred from taking part in future elections under section 62 & 63

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  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 29, 2013 - 4:13AM

    Foreign Donors of flood relief should take notice that their funds are just considered another Piggy Bank for corrupt politicians to use for politicking!

    In the future Donor countries should just refuse to help since some/most/all of the funds obviously never get to the desperate people of Pakistan who suffer!

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  • cautious
    Jan 29, 2013 - 4:14AM

    And you wonder why International donations are significantly down? Who wants to donate to a country which steals your charitable donations? For a country which seems obsessed with bravado and honor you have no sense of shame.

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  • rizwan
    Jan 29, 2013 - 5:40AM

    Congratulation to people of Pakistan. Please vote PPP and PMLN again if you have not learned the lesson yet :)

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  • Sam
    Jan 29, 2013 - 6:03AM

    Thieves!!!

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  • usmanyy
    Jan 29, 2013 - 7:16AM

    cautious, india has rec’d 160 billion dollars in aid – it has one of the highest corruption in the world. pot or kettle?

    PPP’s behavior is disgusting.

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  • iLiberal
    Jan 29, 2013 - 8:26AM

    I miss military rule. At least there was not this gross misgoverance and corruption going.

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  • Habib Khan
    Jan 29, 2013 - 9:35AM

    They want to steal elections on the basis of South Punjab issue. Shame for PPP. They are using money and lingual differences for election compaign.

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  • Maaz
    Jan 29, 2013 - 10:12AM

    Now every one will be opening eyes and seeing by them selves what Dr. Tahir ul Qadri was yelling and screaming to this nation about misuse of national treasury by these corrupt leaders. Every one was making fun then believing that whatever he was saying is a dream but now you will see it for your self what will these leaders be doing which is inversly proportional to what is demanded in article 62, 63, 218 and people representatives act of 1976. Wake up Pakistan! The other solution is to vote for the same people and enjoy the show for another 5 years because there are still many who believe so naively that may be next elections will change this country and make it the leader in the region! DUH!

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 29, 2013 - 4:43PM

    @Maaz:

    there are still many who believe so
    naively that may be next elections
    will change this country and make it
    the leader in the region

    Even in a barely beginning to mature democracy like India, any politician who promises super-power or regional super-power or world dominator status for India will be laughed at. Even the most illiterate prefer their more basic problems to be dealt with.

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  • SS
    Jan 29, 2013 - 5:52PM

    If these people again come in to power, then we thoroughly deserve to be treated like how they are treating us at the moment

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  • Zardari is my leader
    Jan 29, 2013 - 6:25PM

    Vote Zardari…PPP is the only solution to Pakistan…..my heart and soul for PPP

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  • John the Baptist
    Jan 30, 2013 - 12:56AM

    Vote PTI. Get rid of this filth.

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  • Aftab Hussain
    Jan 30, 2013 - 4:25AM

    And they call THIS democracy. Down with this CORRUPT INCOMPETENT government and in with IMRAN KHAN PTI. Nothing short of a revolution is required in Pakistan. It’s future is hanging by a thread

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  • M
    Jan 31, 2013 - 8:48AM

    This money is being used to help the real people of Pakistan who are living in the rural areas…it had been set aside to assist said people irrespective of the election timings, people sitting in their warm houses behind their desktop pc’s and laptops would never be able to comprehend this, the only filth I see in this country is you 5-15% of the population who think they represent the real Pakistani’s

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  • Maaz
    Jan 31, 2013 - 10:15AM

    @Yuri Kondratyuk:
    You are right that this aim should not be the prime focus but the ultimate plan for next 20 years. Right now what would matter is to address basic necessity of a basic human!
    However I do not agree with democracy in India to be fully mature, yes it is far better than in Pakistan but if you go inside the parliament you will see the reflection of same kind of story we are victim of on other side of border i.e. ruling elite is composed of some families from time of partition and before that making allies with other smaller ones to coexist for mutual exploitation of national treasury! I hope for a better future of this region one day.

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  • shaheen
    Feb 1, 2013 - 3:12PM

    It is useless to comment.nothing is going to change in Pakistan,unless people change.
    God for sicken pakistan will continue to bleed unless these use less illegitimate politicians are hanged in masses.

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  • Feb 18, 2013 - 4:51AM

    @Maaz: We don’t need a pin-up TuQ TuQ to point and yell it out to us, we know already, he said nothing new in his addresses and that is why he has fizzled out. He does not have the solution for any problems he presented. All he wants is a show and some power.

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  • Maaz
    Feb 18, 2013 - 9:17AM

    @Usman:
    Talk about your own self and not all because by saying “we” you dont put weight to your comment. Ok so he want is a “show” and a “power”? To get what?
    Impulse of feelings are guided by reasons and exertion is always in proportion to what is required! So what does he want to show? I mean the reasons you are giving are rqually meaningless like the concept behind all conspiracy theories! I am sure you dont rven know what he has been saying because you never listened to him with an honest ear. You just listened to people who also didnt listen to him but are great analysts. The very problem with my dear country that intelligent ones are full of doubts while the stupid ones have all the confidence!

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