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Of merger and the-now-dispensable Fata Secretariat

Peshawar

May 20, 2019

PESHAWAR: Amid all confusion, the secretariat of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) is going to be ultimately wrapped next financial year beginning July 1, as majority of the sectors including the positions of additional chief secretary (ACS), secretaries Law and Order, Production, Social Sectors and Planning and Development (P & D) have already been devolved to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Secretariat.

It goes without saying that the establishment of the Fata Secretariat was the incidental outcome of the long-drawn wrangling over powers -sharing between the provincial government and governor who had been declared the chief executive for erstwhile Fata through SRO in 2007, with all administrative powers.

The additional chief secretary (ACS) of Fata was made the principal accounting officer directly reporting to the governor.

However, after the merger of the tribal areas and omission of Article 247, the administrative and financial powers hitherto rested in the governor and ACS Fata have been delegated to the province.

It has rendered the (Fata) secretariat, which even before the merger was used to be commonly dubbed as proverbial “white elephant” redundant and dispensable.

An administrative secretary told The News that federal budget is available only till June 30 while from July onward the province has already outlined the modalities to take care of budget requirements of merged districts in its fiscal estimates for the next financial year.

He said the ACS, secretaries Law and Order, Production, Social Sectors, P&D have gone to the provincial civil secretariat, while secretary finance, Humayun Khan, is though still in ex-Fata secretary, yet he is also reporting to Secretary Finance KP.

Similarly, Secretary Administration, Infrastructure and Coordination (AI&C), Mian Muhammad, would also be transferred to the provincial secretariat after the handing over of moveable and immovable assets is completed, he added.

“These two are hindmost officials at the somewhat deserted (Fata) secretariat are here only to wrap it up finally,” he added.

According to the documents available with The News, all major directorates operating in the Fata Secretariat have transferred to the Civil Secretariat.

Under the AI&C, the directorates of Works and Services has been reporting to the secretary communication provincial government since December last year, public health Engineering Directorate reports to secretary PHE, Directorate of Local Government and Rural Development reports to secretary Local Government, Irrigation and Hydel Power directorate reports secretary Irrigation since November last year, Directorate of Sports reports to secretary Sports, Culture, Tourism and Youth Affairs, while Directorate of Information has been reporting to the secretary Information and Public Relations KP since January 11.

Under the Social Sector services, one major directorate of the Health Services has devolved to the provincial Health secretariat in September 2018, another vital directorate of Education, both Higher and Elementary and Secondary has been transferred to the provincial and these directorates are also reporting to the respective secretaries in the provincial secretaries since October 2018.

The Fata Zakat and Ushr is now working under the secretary Zakat, Ushr, Social Welfare and Women Development Department KP, while Population Welfare Directorate has also been placed under secretary Population Welfare in October last year.

Directorates in the Production and Livelihood department such as Agriculture (Research), Food Cell, Agriculture (Extension), Livestock, and Dairy Development, Fisheries, and Forest have also been devolved into to the respective departments of the Civil Secretariat. The document also shows that one vital directorate of projects under the P&D Fata has also been put under the ACS P&D Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in December last year.

Major services under the Fata Development Authority (FDA) such as Industries, technical education, Skill, Small Dams, Minerals, Oil and Gas, and Roads and Infrastructure have also been transferred to the province.

While Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) along with the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Unit (RRU) have been placed under the Secretary Relief, Rehabilitation and Settlement Development in January.

Other assets, cells and sectors transferred to the province as result of the merger of the tribal areas to the province include P&D Cell, M&E Cell, Bureau of Statistics, Agency Planning Cell, Agency Finance Cell, Urban Policy and Planning Unit, Strengthening of P&D Cell, Directorate of Projects, Law & Order Section, Tribal Research Cell, Wireless & TA Cell, Fata Secretariat Levies Force, Crises Management Cell (CMC), Fata Analysis and Strategy Team (FAST) and Levies Training Centre at Shahkas.

The provincial cabinet has already approved the development concept paper which is being shared with the line departments in the province to outline development projects in their respective sectors which would be incorporated in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year.

These projects would be completed with the money allocated as 3 percent of the divisible pool for the merged districts during the next fiscal year 2019-20.