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February 7, 2019

BRT, Billion Tree Tsunami projects echo in KP Assembly


February 7, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation projects once again echoed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday as the opposition offered still resistance over formation of the assembly’s standing committees.

The opposition also questioned the fairness of accountability through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.

Leader of the opposition, Akram Khan Durrani while initiating debate on the government’s behaviour said it was an insult that the assembly session called at 9 am started at 12 noon and the opposition members were made to wait for three hours.

He said the traditions of the province were violated in the appointment of chairman Public Accounts Committee showing the dual standards of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the speaker belonging to the ruling party cannot be expected to make accountable his own party’s government. He reminded that the PTI was opposing Shahbaz Sharif’s nomination as Public Accounts Committee chairman in the National Assembly on the grounds that he would not hold to account his party, PML-N’s previous federal government.

Durrani questioned how the speaker being part of the previous PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would ensure fair accountability of the projects executed or launched during the last five year term of PTI.

He said Awami National Party (ANP) Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Khushdil Khan was nominated as chairman standing committee on agriculture due to the consensus reached between the treasury and apposition but he was removed. He termed a breach of the commitment made by the speaker.

“Why the Public Accounts Committee is not taking action over alleged irregularities in BRT as its cost has risen to Rs100 billion,” he argued.

He said the director general of the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) was assigned the supervision of BRT but had failed to complete the project.

Demanding investigation into BRT through a parliamentary committee, he questioned how a subordinate officer can write audit para against the director general who was a grade-19 officer of the Accountant General office.

Asking the speaker to give up chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee, Durrani said being leader of the opposition he should be authorised to make accountability of the last five years rule of PTI.

He complained of discrimination against the opposition in allocation of development funds and ignoring the motions of the opposition in the agenda items. He warned that the opposition would requisition the assembly the day the session ended.

He complained about the non-cooperative attitude of a government officer and said administrative secretaries should behave as government servants and not like PTI workers or else the opposition would not let the government and the assembly to be run.

ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak also criticised the removal of Khushdil Khan from the standing committee chairmanship and said the speaker did not fulfill his commitment.

He warned that the opposition would resign from all assembly committees if Khushdil Khan was not restored. He said speaker being the custodian of the House should remain impartial and quit the Public Accounts Committee as it had become controversial.

He said that since PTI remained in power for the last five years the opposition should audit its projects and affairs. He complained of government interference in the road projects being executed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), saying schemes of 95 kilometer roads and four bridges were declared qualified in the constituency of chief minister but the opposition’s schemes were ignored.

He said the government attitude may lead to severing the relations between Pakistan and Japan as the opposition would be forced to raise the issue with the donor agency. He said a parliamentary committee should be constituted to inquire how many schemes under JICA were executed in different constituencies during the previous three terms of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), ANP-PPP coalition government and the PTI setup.

Liaqat Khan of PTI also said his constituency had been ignored in funds’ allocation when Akram Khan Durrani was the chief minister.

But Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said it was wrong that the opposition members were ignored in funds allocation during MMA and ANP-PPP rule.

In his reply, the speaker said his appointment as Public Account Commitee chairman was made as per the assembly rules of business and former speaker Bakht Jehan and Kiramatullah also held this office.

Regarding discrimination in funds allocation, he said the treasury members had also not been provided any development funds so far.

Senior Minister Atif Khan also clarified the position and said 93 percent allocations were made for ongoing schemes and that was the reason that members were not given funds.

He supported the opposition’s stance on the removal of Khushdil Khan from the standing committee chairmanship and said the speaker should not back out of his decision.

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