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Govt should take Senate’s permission for extension of NFC award, says Rabbani

By Mumtaz Alvi
November 18, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday emphasised that the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award is the basis of federalism and the persistent delay in announcing a new NFC award is unconstitutional.
In an 18-page detailed ruling about the delay in announcing the NFC award, which he had reserved after a debate in the House on a calling attention notice by PPP Senators Sassui Palijo and Mukhtar Dhamra, Rabbani said that constitutional derailments and discontinuity of Parliament has also remained a factor in delay of the NFC Award.
Referring to an earlier resolution passed by the Senate, he said: “the Constitution should be amended to provide (that) if NFC Award is not announced within five years then the government should take permission from the Senate for extension of the Award and the Senate should have the powers to increase the share of provinces by one percent.”
Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid briefed the House about the NFC award, which Rabbani seconded and said he agreed to the contention of the law minister that historically NFC Awards had remained effective for more than five years and sometimes even for 16 years.
Rabbani, therefore, ruled that without touching upon the merits of previous NFCs and their awards as well as disturbing the scheme of the present award, which remains effective, position reflected at para 6 will play a pivotal role in ensuring fiscal decentralization and participatory federalism through enforcement of constitutional rights of the provinces. “At any time before an Order under clause (4) is made, the President may, by order, make such amendments or modifications in the law relating to the distribution of revenues between the federal government and the provincial governments as he may deem necessary or expedient,” states Para 6 of Article 160.
The Senate chairman made the briefing by law minister part of his ruling. According to Law Minister Zahid Hamid, in terms of clause (1) of Article 160, Constitution, 1973, the president of Pakistan shall constitute a National Finance Commission within five years.
In terms of clause (1) read with clause (2) of Article 160, Constitution, 1973, the National Finance Commission shall give its recommendations to the president of Pakistan before the expiry of its tenure i.e. five years. Immediately after the announcement of an award, the president shall constitute the next NFC to give recommendations within its tenure.
The NFC shall give its recommendations to the president well before the expiry of its tenure. The recommendations shall be given effect vide a presidential order, in terms of clause (4) of Article 160, Constitution, 1973 hence completing the entire procedure within five years.
The issue of new NFC has been raised, mostly by PPP senators during almost all the Senate sessions, particularly during the current year. They allege this is like doing injustice to the smaller provinces and denying them their due share in resources.