PESHAWAR: The education budget for DI Khan was passed on to the Communication and Works (C&W) department during the fiscal year (FY) 2014-15.
The district education officer shared this information when the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) requested the education department for details on the utilisation of the development budget. This came to the fore when the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 was tapped by a member of CGPA, Irum Azmat.
A question unanswered
According to the letter of the CGPA, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, Azmat submitted an application on June 18 under K-P RTI Act 2013. She had requested the public information officer at the DI Khan district education office (DEO) to provide data on the allocation and utilisation of the development budget during FY 2014-15.
However, in response, the authorities told her the education budget allocated under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) was instead used by Communication and Works (C&W) department. The governance watchdog was asked to contact C&W for the exact figures.
In the letter to the DEO, Azmat had asked for the allocation made under the provincial ADP for the education office in DI Khan for 2014-15, allocations made under the district ADP to DI Khan DEO, the total amount utilised and the amount left unused.
The RTI request also mentioned that the RTI law was meant to ensure the free flow of information. It added that according to a section of K-P RTI Act 2013, public bodies are bound to provide the requested information within a period of at most 20 days.
However, in response to the request, the DI Khan DEO sent a letter to CGPA, a copy of which is also available with The Express Tribune, stating the information demanded in the letter concerns the C&W department as all the development budget given to the district was utilised by them and not the education department.
Criticising the claims made by the K-P government, CGPA Programme Manager Malik Masood told The Express Tribune on Sunday, “The government says district education budgets have been sufficiently utilised while on the flipside the DEO does not even know if the amount was spent by his department as he says it was used by the C&W department.”
Masood questioned the role of the district education officer if budget for the education department was used by the C&W. He added, “[If such loopholes persist], they will put a big question mark over the local bodies’ system in the districts as after the K-P Local Government Act 2013 comes into practice, the education sector will also be devolved to the district level.”
Bricks not books
The budgeting sector officer of the DEO confirmed the development budget was used by the C&W department and hence it should be the one looked into.
However, when contacted, an official of the C&W department said, “It is the basic job of the department to construct government buildings and not to utilise or manage funds.”
He said if any department wanted any construction work done then they notify the site on which C&W do their work. For instance, if the education department wants to get a school building constructed then they release the amount to the C&W. He rejected the claims made by the DEO and said the education department was responsible for their own budget.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.