Grants to merged districts of tribal areas: Senate panel expresses its dissatisfaction over briefing
ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel, on Tuesday, expressed dissatisfaction over the briefing by the Finance Division on what it told the committee that it released a total of Rs121.1 billion to the merged districts of the tribal areas during the year 2020-2021 for development projects.
The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions was held under the chair of Senator Hilalur Rehman. Senior officials of the Finance Division briefed the committee about the implementation status of three percent allocated from the National Finance Commission (NFC) for the special development projects in the merged tribal districts.
The committee was informed that Rs129.7 billion has been allocated for the year 2021-2022 out of which Rs30.6 billion has been released, while a total of Rs121.1 billion was released during the year 2020-21
Expressing dissatisfaction over the briefing, the committee asked the Finance Division to present a comprehensive report in the committee in its next meeting detailing all the projects. The officials further informed the committee that a sub-committee of the NFC has been constituted, which would look into the matter of three percent share of the merged tribal districts from the NFC.
The committee members also expressed resentment over the statement by an additional secretary of the Finance Division, in which he stated that the three percent share "is in the air".
Senator Dost Mohammad Khan, while expressing resentment said that all the figures are "exaggerated".
He said that the displaced families of Waziristan were promised Rs0.4 million per family in terms of expenditure, but the families are still waiting to get the promised amount.
The chairman of the committee, after consultation with all the members of the committee, demanded setting up of separate accounts for the merged tribal districts and summoned the officials of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in the next meeting.
The committee was also given a detailed briefing on the funds released under the accelerated implementation program (AIP) and annual development program (ADP for the merged tribal areas.
From 2018-19 to 2021-22 till date, the committee was told that a total of Rs61.35 billion has been released under AIP and Rs56.47 billion under the ADP. An overall Rs117.82 billion has been released out of which Rs117.08 billion has been spent. The officials further told the committee that under AIP, Rs144 billion was allocated out of which Rs64 billion was released.
The committee, however, sought a detailed briefing on the spending under the AIP and ADP, besides presenting the details of the tenders under the AIP and the ADP. A sub-committee under the convenership of Behramand Tangi with Senator Dost Mohammad Khan and Senator Hidayatulla has its members to prepare a comprehensive report on the projects under the AIP and the ADP.
The committee members also raised various other issues including the dilapidated conditions of roads and water issues in the merged areas. They also pointed out absence of schools for the larger populations in various areas. The Finance Division officials told the committee that 70 primary schools would be constructed in the merged tribal areas.
The committee was also briefed on the funds released for the rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs), and payments to compensate for the loss of people's property and business. The chairman Committee summoned the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) with a detailed report in the next meeting and also directed the AIP officials to brief the committee in the presence of the AGP.
Briefing the committee, senior officials of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police told the committee that a Special Minority Force (SMF) is being formed for the protection of places of worship of the minorities.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021