Saturday May 18, 2024

Fata MNAs walk out of NA over non-release of funds

By Asim Yasin
March 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The legislators belonging to defunct Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) from the treasury benches and federal ministers belonging to Fata staged a walkout from the National Assembly to protest non-release of funds, promised in the budget, for the region.

Independent legislator Moshin Dawar raised the issue, and he was joined by all legislators belonging to defunct Fata including Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Abdul Shakoor, who belongs to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF) and Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sajid Turi from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Dawar said “we hold meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and they only make promises”. He said so far only Rs5 billion had been released allocated in the budget.

In response, Minister of State for Finance and Revenues Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said an amount of Rs50,120 million had been released to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government so far during the current fiscal year 2022-23 to meet current and development expenditures of the erstwhile Fata. Rs115,200 million (Rs60 billion for current and Rs55.2 billion for development) was allocated for current and development expenditures of the erstwhile Fata during FY 2022-23, she added. However, she said, no amount was earmarked for temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) during the current financial year.

On another point of order, Maulana Jamaluddin Khan, legislator of the JUIF, disclosed in the National Assembly that three drone attacks in South Waziristan two weeks back, in which two children of 4 and 5 years of age were martyred. He said who was responsible for the martyrdom of the two children. He said a brigadier of the Pakistan Army was also martyred in another incident and those involved in it should be brought to justice.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi laid in the House the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Amendment Bill, 2023, and the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Amendment Bill, 2023.

Through an amendment to Section 13 of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021, the bill Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Amendment Bill, 2023, was approved. Implementation of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021 would be the responsibility of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting instead of Ministry of Human Rights.

Through an amendment to Section 17 of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021 Act, new clause (b) was added that stated that, “Prepare an annual report to the state of media freedom and safety to be laid before the Majlis-e-Shura (parliament), through the Ministry to which business of the Commission stands allocated and submit to that Ministry, any other independent reports as and when considered necessary.”

In the meanwhile, Minister of State for Interior Abdul Rehman Khan Kanju claimed in the National Assembly that street crime in the federal capital had decreased due to the steps taken by the government.

Responding to a calling attention notice regarding the reported increase in crimes in Islamabad, particularly against women, he said the Eagle Squad had been established in the Capital to check street crime and after the introduction of force, the crimes had considerably decreased in the areas.

The minister said it was top priority of the government to safeguard movement of women in the Capital’s parks and public places.

About the F-9 Park incident, he said about 100 CCTV [closed circuit television] cameras had been installed and lights made functional, with Eagle Squad personnel deputed for patrolling. “The number of security guards in the park had also been increased to 20,” he told the National Assembly.

The minister said with setting up of three new police stations in the federal capital, the total number had increased to 25 to facilitate its residents.

He said new police stations were established in Phulgran, Kirpa, and Sangjani. “The population of Islamabad has increased rapidly, and existing police stations were unable to cope with requirements of policing.”

He said the newly set up police station in Phulgran would be responsible for some of the areas that previously fell under the jurisdiction of Bara Kaho Police Station.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Abbasi told the House that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had received data of the houses destroyed in recent floods from the three provinces, while data from two federating units is still awaited.

He said minimum compensation for fully damaged houses had been revised up to Rs500,000 and for partially damaged houses, it was fixed at Rs 250,000. At the outset, newly elected MNA Muhammad Mohsin Leghari took oath of his office.

The National Assembly was informed that by June 2022, every Pakistani was under the debt of Rs216,709. “The country’s public debt per capita stood at Rs216,709 at end June 2022,” the finance ministry told the National Assembly on Monday during the question hour.

Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus told the National Assembly that Pakistan had maintained a debt-to-GDP ratio at 73.5 of GDP at end-June 2022, while debt-to-GDP ratio was at 76.5 per cent in June 2020 and 71.5 in June 2021.

In a reply to a question of MNA Saira Bano, Aisha Ghaus said country’s total public debt was Rs52,721 billion till December 2022, including domestic debt of Rs33,116 billion and external debt of Rs19,605 billion. The House was informed in writing that most economies worldwide rely on debt inflows to fulfil the shortfall in available resources to fund the government budget. She said that borrowed funds were at times also required for resource-intensive infrastructure projects which were geared towards facilitating economic growth and achieving social development goals.