Merged Fata districts see development budget cuts

Published: January 1, 2019
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Tribal areas. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tribal areas. PHOTO: REUTERS

PESHAWAR: In an unprecedented move, the federal government has decided to cut the annual development programme for erstwhile Fata districts by 20 per cent.

According to documents available with The Express Tribune the federal government has reduced the annual development programmes for 2018-19 by 20 per cent, which will badly affect the developmental process in former Fata districts.

In the year 2017-18 the agency-wise Fata ADP spending was Rs21.2 billion whereas for 2018-19 it was Rs20.4 billion around Rs1.2 billion less. Besides the centre had earmarked Rs24 billion for Fata development in 2017-18, however due to non-utilisation, Rs4billion lapsed, but the centre has not reallocated the sum.

Moreover, due to legal and administrative issues arising amid Fata-K-P merger, disbursement and allocation of funds has also been affected, officials said.

The documents stated that in 2017-18 education budget was Rs1.3 billion which was decreased to Rs1.2 billion for 2018-19 whereas for health Rs481.28 million were allocated in 2017-18 which were reduced to Rs419 million in 2018-19.

The public health and engineering department fund has been reduced by Rs881.25 million whereas for communication department the cut is Rs1 billion and Rs49.2m for livestock and dairy development.

The forest gets its budget slashed by Rs134.4 million, local government to Rs159.3 million and rural development Rs705.9 million, while irrigation have more than Rs100 million cut in their annual development programme.

An official privy to such matters while talking to The Express Tribune said that in fiscal year 2017-18 the government had allocated Rs24 billion for erstwhile Fata districts, from which Rs4 billion had lapsed due to not being spent in the stipulated time.

The amount was not released later not even after the merger of Fata to K-P.

While this year where second quarter ended on December 31, 2018 the federal government has yet to release about Rs4.5 billion for the merged tribal districts of K-P.

He told the federal finance division prerequisite for issuing next quarter fund is utilisation of previous funds which have not been spent till today.

When asked about why not the first quarter budget not spent till today he replied that as in the first quarter Rs4.8 billion funds were released in mid-October instead of July-August, and now the second quarter was over, but the finance division has yet to release its development budget.

He said that in after Fata-K-P merger the Fata development working party FDWP was still functional but they have no power to decide about utilisation of funds, and provincial development working party PDWP has yet to decide the utilisation of merged tribal district funds.

He added that this red tape hurdle both in districts, ex-Fata secretariat and finance division is delaying the developmental process, in ex Fata

He told that when first quarter budget released became too late then it goes till end and why the fund lapsed.

He hoped that at present there are some problems as there is no such mechanism for spending budget but the immediate concern is to deal with both th Fata secretariat which has been rendered dysfunctional by K-P, as well as civil secretariat.

On the other hand K-P Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra had a meeting with PM Imran Khan in Islamabad and discussed the funding in erstwhile Fata

A short statement in this regard added that they have discussed the funding issue to make merger successful and for this purpose a special meeting with be convened soon.

On Monday the PM also chaired a meeting regarding merger of erstwhile Fata which was also attended by Finance Minister Asad Umer, K-P CM Masood Khan and Governor Shah Farman, special advisors and other high officials.

The meeting discussed the matter including funding regarding ex FATA merger.

The meeting discussed development strategy, law and order and other issues of merged tribal districts of K-P.

PM Imran Khan instructed the officials to ensure issuance of health insurance card to ex Fata  in January, and to start the appointment process of vacant posts in education health and police department to bring the area to level of development districts of country. He advised the concerned officials should regularly visit the merged tribal districts of K-P.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2019.

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