PESHAWAR: A day after the provincial budget was passed, the provincial legislature on Thursday completed debates on a Rs23.17 billion supplementary budget for the fiscal year 2017-18, even as the opposition slammed it for espousing the government’s poor planning and fiscal management.
The supplementary budget bill had been presented by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra.
The supplementary budget includes Rs16.19 billion for developmental schemes and Rs6.97 billion for current expenditures.
After Jhagra presented the supplementary budget, a perplexed opposition questioned the very concept of a supplementary budget.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) lawmaker Inayatullah Khan, who served as the senior minister for local government in the last government, told the house that the developmental side of the supplementary budget was not equitable.
The supplementary budget provided funds for schemes in only three select districts including Mardan, Swabi and Nowshera — hometowns for the K-P Senior Minister Atif Khan, former K-P assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and former K-P chief minister Pervez Khattak.
“Around 90 per cent of the Rs16 billion demanded in the supplementary budget is for three districts which are already developed,” he said, demanding “equitable distribution of funds.”
Inayatullah lamented that backward districts of the province, towards the north and south of K-P, had been ignored again.
Pointing to the system at the federal level to grant extra shares to Balochistan as compensation for its backwardness, the MMA lawmaker demanded a similar mechanism for these districts in K-P.
He also questioned the very concept and need for the supplementary budget, terming it bad planning and financial management. During his speech, Inayatullah pulled out copies of the supplementary budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 and compared it with Thursday’s document and expressed surprise that it was almost identical save the change of nomenclature.
“I see no change in the budget and financial management,” the MMA lawmaker said, adding, “even the wordings are same.”
Sardar Hussain Babak of Awami National Party (ANP) said that the budget seems to be focused on a few constituencies in Mardan, Swabi and Nowshera. He pointed to the protests made by certain lawmakers of the three district in the assembly stating that their constituencies had been denied developmental schemes and funds for existing schemes had been stopped.
He also warned the government of misusing Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act in Swat and asked the government to abrogate the law.
“Political revenge has been exacted in the name of Section-4 [of Land Acquisition Act]. The section has been used to acquire agricultural land of the government’s opponents in Swat where there is already a shortage of land,” he said.
Responding to the opposition’s criticism, K-P Local Government Minister Shahram Tarakai explained the need of the supplementary budget as a measure to provide funds for priority projects in its last year of government.
He further said that past governments had regularly introduced the measure, contending that it should not raise any eyebrows.
“The ANP and PPP coalition government and the MMA also had supplementary budgets,” he reminded, adding that they re-appropriated funds from slow-moving projects towards priority projects.
The house unanimously passed a resolution condemning mass layoffs of journalists from media houses through the country in general and in K-P in particular.
The joint resolution had been tabled by the Leader of the Opposition in K-P Assembly Akram Khan Durrani and K-P Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2018.
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