ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday informed the National Assembly that the government is making all-out efforts to end the tradition of supplementary grants through proper implementation of financial discipline.
Responding to questions asked by opposition, he said that the past governments had also approved trillions of rupees supplementary grants, which would be phased out slowly.
He said that Rs1.4 trillion in the form of supplementary grants in 2012-13 and Rs5.67 trillion in 2013-14 were passed by the parliament, adding a similar supplementary grant of Rs600 billion was approved by the House.
In the past, there was a tradition of trillions of rupees of supplementary grants, which, he said the incumbent government had reduced to Rs487.152 billion for 2021.
Tarin said that the government had provided Rs417 billion through stimulus package during the Covid-19 pandemic to the people.
He said that the government had provided Rs260 billion subsidy for relief to electricity consumers in the country.
The Prime Minister’s House has released Rs8 billion for emergency relief during the pandemic.
The minister said that the government had also released Rs20 billion in the form of Drawback on Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL) to the local industry.
He said that Rs33 billion was also allocated for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam and another Rs26 billion in shape of DLTL repayments.
The National Assembly approved 174 supplementary grants for last three fiscal years including 2020-21, 2019-20, and 2018-19.
The House passed 49 supplementary grants worth Rs487.152 billion for fiscal year 2020-21, 44 supplementary grants worth Rs590.270 billion for fiscal year 2019-20, and 81 supplementary grants worth Rs169.163 billion for fiscal year 2018-19.
The finance minister and parliamentary secretary for finance Zain Qureshi moved the supplementary grants one by one in the House.
The supplementary grants were related to various ministries and departments including the Cabinet Division, the Aviation Division, the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Communication Division, Defence Services, Power Division, Federal Education and professional Training Division, Higher Education Commission (HEC), National Heritage and Cultural Division, subsidies and miscellaneous expenditure, Federal Board of Revenue, Housing and Works Division, Industries and Production Division, Information and Broadcasting Division, Information Technology and Telecommunication, Interior Division, Law and Justice Division, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Narcotics Control Division, National Food Security and Research Division, National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, Privatization Division, Religious Affairs and Inter Faith Harmony, Planning and Development and Special Initiatives Division, Petroleum Division, Railways, Water Resources, Establishment Division, Finance Division, Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, Passport Organization, Civil Armed Forces, Frontier Constabulary, Pakistan Coast Guards, Pakistan Rangers, Textile Division, and Commerce Division etc.
Opening the debate on supplementary grants, Rana Tanveer Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) termed them against the financial discipline, which needed to be curtailed in future.
He demanded the government to maintain good governance and ensured transparency and financial accountability, adding such grants should be spent for the welfare of the masses and reduction of inflation in the country.
Shaiza Marri of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) alleged that funds were being used for arm twisting of the opposition leaders.
She proposed the government that cut motions should be allowed on the grants, so the allocations could be made rational.
She said that despite tall claims, the government was not following austerity measures and undue grants were given to various ministries and departments.
Shahida Akhtar Ali of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal(MMA) said that such grants were tantamount to inefficiency of various ministries and departments, which could not make their proper budgets for the whole year.
She said almost all ministries sought supplementary grants, which were totally contrary to the claims of financial discipline.
Ahsan Iqbal of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) said that the chairman NAB repeatedly claimed that the bureau had recovered over Rs400 billion.
He continued that despite tall claims of huge recovery, around Rs5.5 billion supplementary grants was given to the NAB.
“NAB was being used for political engineering in the country,” he regretted.
He also sought justification for giving Rs8 billion supplementary grant to the Prime Minister’s House, saying what is the need of this amount as the prime minister claims of reducing the expenditures.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali observed massive power load-shedding was being carried out in various parts of the country, despite giving huge supplementary grants to the Power Division.
He also questioned the performance of various ministries and department including interior, information, telecommunication, and the HEC, etc, saying Interior Ministry failed to maintain law and order in the country.
Dr Ayesha Pasha of the PML-N said that the supplementary grants for the last three years were not shown in the budget documents.
Shaista Pervaiz Malik of the PML-N called for bringing financial discipline in matters of various ministries and departments.
She said that the government did not pay honorarium to the employees of various department deputed for budget coverage during the last three years.
Mohsin Dawar said that the HEC was facing myriad of problems for the last few years, saying the employees of the Peshawar University – established soon after independence of Pakistan – were not getting salaries for last few months due to financial crunch.
Later, the finance minister laid schedule of Authorized Expenditure 2021-2022 and supplementary Schedule of Authorized Expenditure 2020-21, 2019-2020, and 2018-19 in the House under Article 83 of the constitution.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021