PESHAWAR: In a strange move, the interim chief minister has suggested creating a ministry for former tribal areas.
However, the move has run into opposition from members of his own cabinet who have not only opposed the move but have warned that it was an overreach of the interim government’s mandate.
At least two officials present in a high-level meeting of the provincial cabinet told The Express Tribune that the Caretaker Finance Minister Abdur Rauf Khan objected to interim Chief Minister Dost Muhammad Khan’s move of creating a ministry to oversee affairs of the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata), noting that the caretaker government has a limited mandate for a very brief period.
“We are not supposed to make decisions on such matters. We are here for a limited period and we do not have the mandate to decide such a matter,” the sources quoted the finance minister as saying.
The finance minister also reportedly said that the caretaker government has not even worked out the financial implications of establishing a separate ministry or department for the erstwhile Fata thus they have no idea about how much it such a move would cost.
Given the meagre budget approved by the interim government just weeks ago, the interim finance minister pointed out that there was no accounting for the ministry in it.
Moreover, the finance minister warned that the move, if given practical shape, could cause friction amongst the other administrative departments of K-P and the proposed Fata department.
“You cannot transfer all the departments to a single department. The health department should be merged with the K-P health and the education department into K-P education department and the same principle shall be adopted for all the administrative departments of the erstwhile Fata,” the official said while quoting the finance minister.
Furthermore, Rauf contended that setting up a separate department would be the antithesis of the concept of a merger and will also overburden the government kitty into recruiting a number of civil servants and officials in the province.
“Add my dissenting note to the move if the cabinet goes ahead with it,” the sources quoted Rauf as saying.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, Abdul Rauf Khan refused to comment on the issue.
Official’s privy to the reforms process also expressed their concerns over the move.
They said that after the merger of Fata, there was little room for the current system of the tribal areas to continue.
In its place, however, there was the need to issue a clearly worded notification which declares that all projects, executed until June 30, 2018, are transferred to K-P, including the one-liner in the federal budget and the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) with all projects, including their original costs and status of pendency, and the all assets and liabilities, for the year 2018-19.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2018.