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April 17, 2018

Caretaker govt in KP to use present budget for four months


April 17, 2018

Riaz Khan Daudzai

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership’s decision not to present and pass the annual budget for the next financial year (2018-19) will empower the incoming setup in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for making expenditures to run the affairs of the government for four months in the absence of the next provincial assembly.

The vision of the PTI leadership not to pass the annual budget for the next financial year will not only empower the caretaker government to run the government affairs in efficient manner, but it will also ensure that public funds are not used beyond the tenure of the incumbent rulers to influence polls process in their favour.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, while addressing a joint press conference with the Marwat family leader and senior politician Saleem Saifullah Khan on Sunday, announced that the provincial government would not pass the annual budget for the next fiscal year. The chief minister by announcing the decision actually only endorsed a similar proclamation of PTI chairman Imran Khan.

Imran Khan some three days ago announced that the provincial government would not present the budget. He said it would be the right of the next government to present its budget statement before the provincial legislature.

Otherwise, the provincial government had earlier directed the Finance Department to prepare the annual budget as the chief minister was keen on presenting it on May 15 or at least before the expiry of the tenure on May 29.

In an earlier interview, Finance Secretary Shakeel Qadir Khan confided to this scribe that they had done all the “needful” to prepare the budget statement to be presented on May 15 as desired by the provincial government.

He added that the setting government had the right to pass the budget, while the next government would also have the constitutional powers to change the budget passed by the present government.

“This pitfall actually goes against the suggestion that the setting government should pass the budget before the expiry of its tenure as there is no point in presenting it, if they could not implement it,” he said.

This probably is one reason the PTI leadership was not seeing any point in passing the budget which could be changed by their successors.There is absolutely no confusion in relation to the powers of the provincial government to use the public funds to run its affairs beyond June 30 when the provincial assembly doesn’t exist.

Article 126 of the Constitution governs such a scenario. It provides for “Power to authorize expenditure when Assembly stands dissolved.”It authorizes the provincial government (caretakers) to authorize the expenditure from the Provincial Consolidated Fund (PCF) in respect of the estimated expenditure for a period not exceeding four months in any financial year, at any time when the provincial assembly stands dissolved.

However, such expenditure would be pending completion of the procedure prescribed (in Articles 122 and 123) for the voting of grants and the authentication of the schedule of authorised expenditure.

There is a procedure for tackling such a scenario – to make expenditures when the assembly stands dissolved, Shakeel Qadir said and added that if June 30 comes and there is no assembly, the existing budget figures would continue.

He said that the non-salary and salary budget would be extended for another three months to run the government affairs. The development funds would, however, be frozen. Even that (development budget) can be extended,” he said.

The finance secretary said the next government, if formed in July-August, would pass its budget as it would have all figures of revenue receipts in hand.

However, there may be a drawback for government employees as under such arrangement they will have to wait for two months to have salary raise in line with increase the federal government is mulling for its employees in the next budget.

Similarly, no revision, increase and reduction in tax and levies would possible as the caretaker government is not authorized by the Constitution to impose, revise or decrease any tax, or levy.

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