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January 27, 2021

10th NFC Award: First meeting will be held in February

National

January 27, 2021

LAHORE: The federal government has called the maiden meeting of the 10th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award in the first week of February by circulating the agenda among the members of the commission.

According to the official communique available with The News, the inaugural meeting of the 10th NFC is scheduled on February 4, 2021 in Islamabad. The NFC secretariat circulated two-point agenda for the maiden meeting.

Under agenda item I, it has asked the members, including the federal, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Balochistan, to present the fiscal positions of their respective governments. Under the agenda item II, general discussion on strategy for deliberations on new NFC Award, including the proposed formation of sub-groups for deliberation on thematic areas, would be made.

The federal finance minister will chair the maiden session of the 10th NFC Award while the finance ministers of all the four provinces would represent their respective governments' fiscal positions. Besides, the meeting would also be attended by private members -- Tariq Bajwa, Asad Sayeed, Musharraf Rasul Cyan and Dr Kaiser Bengali -- from their respective provinces, including Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan.

According to the TORs, the 10th NFC Award will distribute net proceeds of five major tax categories among the Centre and the provinces, besides looking special needs of the country and expenditure required for special areas. The members of the NFC said that usually in the first meeting the tempo and direction of the government judged about the seriousness of NFC Award. This has been witnessed from the past two awards i.e. 8th and 9th NFC Award, when no consensus was established and the 7th NFC Award continued. They said that according to the TORs, the federal government wants to share the losses burden of the estate-owned enterprises but it would not be agreed to by the provinces. Further, the issues of rationalising the budgetary subsidies given by the federal and provincial governments and agreeing on a mechanism to finance them would be taken up. The 10th NFC Award is likely to change the parameters for various provinces, particularly after addition of about five million people from the tribal region to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It is worth mentioning here that the 9th NFC Commission was constituted on April 24, 2015 and reconstituted a couple of times in 2016, 2018 and 2019 owing to change in governments and replacement of non-statutory members. However, the 9th NFC Commission failed to conclude with a new award as no meaningful and structured dialogue was held among the members.