PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance and Health Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said on Tuesday the province was facing Rs275 billion deficit and feared it would have negative impact on the development projects in case the federal government didn’t pay its share to the province.
Briefing journalists about KP’s financial crisis, Taimur Jhagra primarily held the federal government, headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, responsible for that saying they “intentionally or unintentionally” wanted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to default.
“Since January 2021, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received Rs63 billion from its share of net hydel profit. But after the regime change at the Center, we didn’t receive a penny since April 2021 till this month and that created deep financial issues for the province,” the finance minister said.
Taimur Jhagra said the KP government was tired of writing letter to Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail but it didn’t work.
He said that besides delaying their NHP payments (net hydel profit), the federal government not only cut budget for the newly merged districts (NMDs), but also stopped payment for the development projects there.
“This issue is beyond politics and that’s why I personally went to Islamabad and sat with Miftah Ismail on breakfast before the annual budget to get KP it’s due share. He had promised to mention it in his budget speech but he didn’t,” Taimur Jhagra complained.
He said the province was passing through serious financial difficulties, saying they had utilised all possible options to seek assistance from the federal government.
Taimur Jhagra said the KP government decided to take a jirga of prominent people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the federal government and get their due share from it or approach the court.
“These are the two remaining options and we may utilise them. Since we are fighting for the province and its people, we hope all other political leaders from KP will help us in this struggle,” he said. The minister said the KP government was neither asking for any undue favour nor making any illogical demand. He said it would have serious implications for the development projects in KP in case the federal government refused payments.
Of the Rs275 billion deficit, he said, it includes Rs65.7 billion of federal transfers, Rs61.2 billion NHP, Rs25.9 billion NMDs budget for 2022-23, Rs20.4 billion NMDs lag for 2021-22 and Rs102.3 billion flood relief funding requirements of the province.
According to the KP government, the recent floods triggered by abnormal monsoon rains had caused KP Rs102.3 billion losses, including roads, bridges , etc.
He stated the KP government would consider other possible options and may go for loans or arranging funds from other sources but would not let people to suffer.
Taimur Jhagra said if the federal government didn’t cooperate and left the people of people to suffer, it would create an impression as if voice of the smaller provinces is not heard in the federal capital. He said the people will not spare the politicians from KP playing a negative role in this regard. Taimur Jhagra said that presently KP and the newly merged districts desperately needed funds for security and floods, and the federal government should have realised these pressing issues of the militancy-stricken province.
He said all the provinces had pledged financial assistance to the NMDs but none of them fulfilled their commitment yet.
He stated that there were three major challenges of the KP government, including delayed transfer of funds from the federal government, lack of payments in NHP sector and grants to the merged districts.
Taimur Jhagra said the federal government had reduced the 2022-23 allocations for NMDs across the board, saying the current budget has been maintained at Rs60 billion against expected minimum current budget of Rs85 billion.
Similarly, he said the grants for temporarily displaced persons had been cut from Rs17 billion to zero.
He said KP had spent Rs16 billion on NMDs from own resources. Taimur Jhagra accused the federal government of suspending Sehat Sahulat Programme for NMDs from June 30, 2022, saying the KP government was now providing free health services to the people of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas from own limited resources. He spoke about various legislations and reforms of the PTI-led government in KP.
The minister said KP was the only province that increased its revenue by 200 percent through KPRA
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