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January 18, 2020

PM Imran Khan orders release of funds for Punjab districts: Treasury ‘trust of nation’, says Usman Buzdar

Top Story

January 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government to release provincial finance commission award funds to districts.

Sources said Premier Imran Khan took immediate notice of the situation after Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry criticised the Punjab government in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) core committee meeting and, later on, through a letter to the premier.

During the meeting, PM Imran Khan directed the Punjab government for immediate issuance of provincial finance commission award besides providing funds to the districts.

Fawad Chaudhry had said the PTI was facing pressure as the Punjab government was unable to deliver on political and administrative fronts.

He criticised the Punjab government in the PTI core committee meeting, held on Thursday and complained that districts were not getting the provincial finance commission award.

He said the federal government, which was showing excellent performance, was facing criticism owing to Punjab. Only Rs77 billion had been released out of Rs350 billion development fund in the province, he regretted. He slammed the Punjab authorities for not issuing provincial finance commission award to its districts, which blocked progress on development projects. Chaudhry said that Centre was also facing severe criticism on the political front by the nationals due to failure of the Punjab government.

Fawad Chaudhry also questioned the discretionary funds for chief ministers, saying that the practice was a violation of the Article 140-A of the Constitution and was against the public interest. The federal minister also explained in a tweet that the province’s problems stem from unfair allocation of development funds. The problem was of the distribution of funds and not of the Punjab government, he added.

Fawad Chaudhry, in the letter to PM Imran Khan, called for immediate implementation of provincial finance commission award without which the chief ministers (CMs) are acting as ‘kings’.

“Unfortunately, the incumbent government of Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaf, despite passage of 16 months, has not yet announced the provincial finance commission award,” said Fawad Chaudhry, in his letter. He requested the PM to ‘especially’ direct the Punjab government to immediately ensure compliance of Article 140-A.

“Consequently, the non-compliance of Article 140-A and the inequitable disbursement of funding to the districts have caused disappointment and disillusionment in the population,” added Fawad.

He informed the premier ‘the provinces have been constantly violating Article 140-A of the Constitution’ and stated that the ‘grossest violation is the inequitable distribution of funds among the districts.’

Fawad said that ‘Punjab receives the highest share in the National Finance Commission Award, but since Shahbaz Sharif took over as the chief minister of Punjab, he halted the provincial NFC which is a serious violation of Article 140-A of the Constitution.

The minister reminded the PM: “Your Excellency has always laid great emphasis on the establishment of a strong local government system which entails equitable distribution of resources among all provinces, but it is not possible without the implementation of provincial NFC Award.”

“I request you to kindly take notice of this vivid and flagrant violation of the Constitution and direct the provinces, especially the government of Punjab to immediately ensure compliance of the Article 140-A and the provincial NFC Award may be announced in accordance with the prescribed formula,” added Fawad.

Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, Punjab Information Minister, told The News whatever Fawad Chaudhry had written to the prime minister was his personal opinion.

He said the PTI Punjab, under the Chief Minister Punjab was moving ahead in a positive direction and progress was underway in the province.

Meanwhile, responding to the criticism by Fawad Ch, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said on Friday the Treasury was "a trust of the nation" and he was using it in the best public interest.

"We have done away with the culture of show-offs, extravagant and reckless spending," Buzdar said. "We consider the government's Treasury a trust of the nation.”

The CM said that former governments used the Treasury as something for free, but the incumbent leadership was more mindful and understood that the Treasury was entrusted to them. "Unnecessary expenditures have been curtailed to a great extent," he added.