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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Tuesday lambasted the provinces for their lack of interest in social protection and social security, saying the federal government alone is sponsoring Rs270 billion Ehsaas Programme.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly's Special Committee on Development of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), chaired by Junaid Akber Khan, he said that besides Ehsaas Programme, it is again the federal government which provides Rs120 billion to the Higher Education Commission (HEC). "The provinces should also contribute in social safety net programmes as it's not the sole responsibility of the Centre," he added.

The minister said that the government will find a solution to the issue in the new National Finance Commission (NFC) Award as the provinces should also contribute in social safety net programme to alleviate poverty in the country.

Tarin said that it was he who had ensured provision of 57.5 percent funds to the provinces in the NFC. "The federal government is bearing the expenditures of civil armed forces, the HEC, and the Ehsaas programme," he added.

He said that constitution of new NFC will take time. About release of funds to erstwhile Fata, he said that releasing funds for erstwhile tribal areas is needed the most, adding all-out efforts are being made to release three percent to former Fata as its people had been badly affected from terrorism in the past. Nafeesa Shah, a member of the committee said that after reconstitution of the NFC, new NFC should be announced.

Earlier, in a briefing to the committee, the Finance Ministry official said that the total development budget for erstwhile Fata is Rs60 billion, of which Rs10 billion have so far been released. They said that the provincial government has also given Rs45 billion.

The National Assembly Speaker, Asad Qaiser, who also attended the meeting said that after Afghanistan's fall, things in the region have completely changed, adding: "We are running short of time and all-out efforts should be made for the development of erstwhile Fata."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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