PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday approved legislation for the official use of a helicopter or an aircraft by the chief minister, minister or public servants on behalf of the chief executive of the province at the provincial government expenses.
The legislation drew a strong criticism from the opposition benches, which accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of making amendments to counter the Election Commission of Pakistan’s objection to the use of helicopters by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan or the chief minister himself in the election campaign.
Certain amendments were approved to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) Act 1975 wherein new sections after 7A were inserted. The amendments said the chief minister may use government-owned aircraft or helicopters for official use and the expenses would be borne by the government
The chief minister may hire an aircraft or helicopter from the open market or requisition it from the Pakistan Air Force or the federal government for official use. The government would foot the bill in accordance with the rules made by the Pakistan Air Force or federal government as the case may be.
Likewise, the chief minister may allow a minister or public servant to use an aircraft or helicopter of the government for official use. The government would pay for the charges. The bill was moved in the assembly by Culture Minister Shaukat Yousufzai on behalf of the chief minister amid shouting from the opposition benches.
Speaking after the assembly session, parliamentary party leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), Sardar Hussain Babak, told media persons that Deputy Speaker Mehmood Jan did not provide time to the opposition benches to speak about the legislation that would now give legal permission to PTI chief Imran Khan to use the provincial government helicopter for his political activities and electioneering in the province.
He said, on the one hand, the PTI leadership and government were claiming a shortage of funds in the province while, on the other hand, legislation had been made to hire helicopters and aircraft at a huge cost.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentary party leader Ikhtiyar Wali Khan said that the PTI chief was using the KP government helicopter like an auto rickshaw for his political activities and now he would get legal cover to use the resources of the provincial government for his personal use.
“The amendments have been made to counter objections by the Election Commission of Pakistan to the helicopter use in the election campaign,” he added. The KP Assembly passed another resolution by a majority, asking the federal government to release arrears to the provincial government under net hydel profit, and the funds meant for the merged districts (former tribal areas), so that the province could utilise the amount for the development and welfare of its residents.
The resolution expressed concern over the high inflation and unprecedented price hike in the country. It asked the federal government to announce a special package for the people of the province, particularly those affected by recent floods and rains.
Earlier, a question about the net hydel profit was referred to the House Standing Committee for a detailed discussion after Finance Minister Tailmur Saleem Jhagra did not oppose the question raised by the ANP woman MPA Shahida Bibi during the Question-Hour.
The minister said the KP had received about Rs68 billion during the last 21 months when the PTI was in power in the federal government. He said since April this year, the province had not received a single penny from the federal government under the net hydel profit after the PMLN-led government came into power in the Centre. The minister asked all the political parties to join hands with the provincial government for electricity, gas and other rights from the federal government.
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