The FATA Secretariat has asked the centre to do away with budget ceilings imposed on officials who approve development projects for the tribal areas.
Currently secretariat officials can only approve those projects in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) which stand at or below the ceiling of Rs200 million, shared FATA Secretariat Additional Secretary Planning and Development Khalid Ilyas. He was talking at a seminar – ‘Predevelopment budget 2014-15 Consultation’– organised by the Post Crises Needs Assessments (PCNA) at the FATA Secretariat on Thursday.
The federal government has been requested to increase the ceiling for FATA Secretariat officials because when a need arises to embark on a development project which costs more than the current allocation limit, seeking approval from the centre causes delays, explained Ilyas. The additional secretary suggested a new range of Rs800-1000 million.
Ilyas also pointed out certain issues pertaining to development work in tribal areas such as the limited budget, budgetary cuts and late or piecemeal release of funds. Poor law and order and disputes also hinder in development in the region, added the additional secretary planning.
Elders participating in the seminar complained tribal areas face a lack of attention which leads to problems in identifying areas for development as well as in the implementation of development schemes. Transparency in allocating and distributing funds is an obscure process, they complained.
Dr Tariq Afridi, from Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar, Ibrahim Shinwari from Khyber Agency, Sadiq Sherani from FR DI Khan and Hayat Khan from Kurrum Agency were among the tribal elders who had been invited to the seminar. They also stressed education, health, and road services should be prioritised to improve the prospects of the region.
Earlier, FATA Secretariat Additional Chief Secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif, who chaired the seminar, said it is the government’s desire to set development priorities for the tribal region by planning and implementing schemes after consulting Fata parliamentarians and tribesmen. Arif said several communities complained they had no opportunity to provide input during planning of development schemes.
He urged participants to take an active interest in development activities and to come forward with their suggestions and ideas which would be included in planning future development in Fata.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2013.