PESHAWAR: The Chief Minister’s Secretariat and Establishment Department have spent more money on the POL and repair of vehicles and entertainment than the combined cost of many other departments excluding the police.
The budget figures show that out of the Rs80 million spent on entertainment, the Establishment Department and Chief Minister’s Secretariat consumed about Rs60 million, which comes to 75 percent of the total costs of entertainment by all the departments in the province.
The Establishment Department is one of the portfolios held by the chief minister. The budget document shows that the Establishment Department has been allocated around Rs703.65 million annual budget and it spends Rs25.2 million on entertainment and POL. The department spends Rs20 million on the POL for helicopters, cars and airplanes and Rs5 million on entertainment and gifts. It doesn’t include Rs1 million the department spent on account of the CNG charges.
It also shows that the allocation will go up in the revised budget like previous years as it spent Rs24 million during the 2011-12 fiscal on helicopters, cars and airplanes and Rs8 million on entertainment and gifts.
The department also has an allocation of Rs17 million for honoraria and Rs4 million as secret service expenditure.The Chief Minister’s Secretariat has spent over Rs82.430 million of its total annual allocation of Rs215.838 million on the POL and entertainment charges.
The Chief Minister’s Secretariat is going to spend over Rs15 million on the POL for planes, helicopters and cars and another Rs1.6 million on CNG. The secretariat had spent Rs17 million during previous fiscal in the revised budget while it was allocated Rs14.33 for the POL for planes, helicopters and cars in the estimated budget of 2011-12.
The Chief Minister’s Secretariat is also going to spend over Rs40 million on entertainment and gifts while in the last fiscal it spent over Rs51 million on this count in the revised budget on entertainment. It has also an allocation of Rs4.72 million for honoraria.
The budget books reveal that the Establishment Department and Chief Minister’s Secretariat spent more funds on the POL, CNG and entertainment than the secondary, higher and technical and special education and social welfare departments.
The Higher Education, Archives and Libraries have been allocated Rs0.9 million, the Technical Education and Manpower Rs1.9 million, Social Welfare and Special Education Rs1.0 million and Elementary and Secondary Education Rs2.450 million for their POL needs and the combined cost on these departments is less than the amount being spent by the Establishment and Chief Minister’s Secretariat.
The chief minister’s special assistant Syed Masoom Shah, when asked to respond to the issue, dispelled any disparity in the allocation of funds on account of POL and entertainment. “It may sound strange that the CM Secretariat spends funds on entertainment but this money is normally spent on public utility events,” he claimed.
He elaborated that the decade-long militancy in the province and adjoining tribal areas restricted movement of the chief minister and the most important meetings and other functions like oath-taking of press clubs, etc were held in the Chief Minister House. “It might raise the entertainment charges, but even then the provincial government is taking extra care in spending public money,” he said.
He said Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti was not using any extraordinary entourages and motorcades while travelling outside the province or in provincial metropolis and thus any additional spending on POL was out of question. “The chief minister has the realisation that every penny of the public money belongs to the people and it is, therefore, judicially used for their wellbeing,” he added.
However, he said that during the calamities like the flood that struck most parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July 2010 the chief minister was compelled to use helicopter without seeking any extra expenses for the purpose.
He said the POL allocations were need-based and the departments that needed more money on this count were given priority. “As law and order is the first and foremost priority and the police needs huge allocations for the POL, the provincial government allocated over Rs697 million for the force to meet its POL needs,” Masoom Shah said.
He maintained that the Health Department got Rs25.69 million for the POL while agriculture considered the backbone of the economy was given over Rs28 million in the current budget.