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LAHORE: Finance Minister of Punjab Mohsin Laghari has claimed that the federal government owes Rs176.353 billion to the Punjab government as the former has not released Punjab’s share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award for the last seven months.

“The federal government also did not release any relief fund for flood recovery,” said Laghari while addressing a press conference here on Saturday. He was accompanied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra and Spokesperson of Punjab government Musarrat Cheema.

He further claimed that despite being responsible for the payment of the premium for the Universal Health Insurance Scheme (Health Cards) of Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, the federal government did not release the payment, adding that only Punjab was paying the premium of health card.

He accused the federal government of weakening the federation by not paying the provinces’ shares in the NFC at a time when the provinces were dealing with flood disasters from their resources.

“The payment of all dues, including NFC and net hydraulic profit, were a routine matter, which should continue automatically. This atmosphere of non-cooperation was causing irreparable damage to the provincial economy,” he added.

According to him, despite the economic crisis caused by the non-cooperation of federal government, the Punjab government gave a package of Rs 14 billion for the infrastructure damaged by the devastating floods. This was made possible by controlling other ongoing and developmental expenses of the province.

Responding to the queries, the Punjab Finance Minister said that the economy grows through investment and political instability directly affects investment. “To save the economy from the ongoing crisis, it was important that we bring stability in our governments and this was only possible through fresh general elections,” he added.

The KP finance minister questioned the ability of the federal government to overcome the financial crisis. He said that fresh general elections were the only way forward.

“The KP government could not sustain without the support of the federal government as its economy depends on it and thus we cannot meet our expenses without net hydel profit, KP’s share in NFC share and PSDP projects,” he added.

“In the last seven and a half months, the federal government was supposed to transfer 120 billion rupees to KP and we were still waiting for it. The federal government has stopped the wheels of the country’s economy by withholding our dues. The country’s economy depends on the provinces; if an investment was not made in the provinces, the national economy will be affected due to the non-availability of funds,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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