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June 26, 2019

KP Assembly approves demands for Rs6.52bn grant, rejects opposition’s cut motion


June 26, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly approved with majority three demands for grant of Rs6.52 billion in its budget session on Tuesday and rejected the cut motions proposed by the opposition lawmakers.

With majority of votes, the House approved the Rs344,598,000 demand for grant for the provincial assembly, Rs3,925,612,000 demand for general administration department and the Rs2,250,483,000 demand for grant for finance department.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani put to vote the demands when members from the opposition refused to withdraw their cut motions.

Speaking on their cut motions, the opposition members including Sahibzada Sanaullah, Badshah Saleh, Ahmad Kareem Kundi and Nighat Orakzai of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Sardar Hussain Babak, Khushdil Khan, Salahuddin Khan, Bahadur Khan, Samar Haroon Bilour and Shagufta Malik of Awami National Party (ANP), Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha and Sobia Shahid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Mian Nisar Gul of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Inayatullah Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami complained of discrimination in allocation of schemes in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) and termed the budget imbalanced.

They said the performance of the finance and administration departments was poor and unsatisfactory.

Terming the budget against the spirit of the constitution, they warned of going to the court of law and refused to withdraw their cut motions.

They pinpointed many shortcomings and cuts in allocations for different sectors including education and reflecting unrealistic figures based on releases from the federal government and increase in taxes,.

Almost all the opposition members complained that their constituencies were ignored in the allocation of funds in the ADP.

Criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership, they said the unjust distribution of funds and allocation of schemes were examples of bad governance in the province. They opined that the government disappointed the people who had great expectations from the PTI. The opposition MPAs said non-allocation for the ongoing schemes, ignoring underdeveloped areas in the budget, delay in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, non-release of net hydel profit arrears by the federal government to the province and increase in taxes were major failures of the government.

They also criticised the government for enhancing the upper age limit for retirement of government employees and said it would deprive 150,000 to 20,000 youth of job opportunities.

Interestingly, Sardar Hussain Babak, Nighat Orakzai and Sobia Shahid remarked that former Chief Minister Pervez Khattak deserved appreciation for being cooperative while dealing with the opposition members.

They complained that present Chief Minister Mahmood Khan did not bother to attend the assembly session. Sahibzada Sanaullah and Aurangzeb Nalotha said the government did not even release those funds that the former chief minister had approved for undertaking development projects in their constituencies. However, Finance Minister Taimoor Salim Jhagra in his reply defended the budget as ideal one and said neither new taxes were imposed nor allocations for education curtailed. He said about 25,000 teachers would be recruited in three years.

He maintained that education, health, tourism, industry and information technology were the priority of the government. He asked whether imposing Rs5,000 professional tax on those earning Rs6 million annually was unjustified.

He said the development outlay of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was just eight percent lower than Punjab and was higher than Sindh.

He claimed the government would generate record revenue both at the provincial and federal level.

He assured the opposition of release of funds and execution of development schemes on need basis without any discrimination.

Earlier, the speaker referred to the standing committee on administration the issue of cleanliness and management affairs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad and the MPAs’ Hostel in Peshawar.

Alleging anomalies in allocation of rooms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad and mismanagement and poor cleanliness in the MPAs’ hostel, Nighat Orakzai demanded they should be under the control of the speaker.

Sardar Hussain Babak and Senior Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai endorsed her point of view and said there was mismanagement in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House and the MPAs’ hostel.

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