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Pakistan Print 2023-03-28

Funds for tribal areas merged with KP: Two ministers, MNA walkout of NA in protest

Published March 28, 2023
ISLAMABAD: June 11 – Parliamentarians listens Federal Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session at Parliament House. The minister presents the Rs. 2010 billion budget and size is 29.7% higher than the size of estimates for 2007-08. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD: June 11 – Parliamentarians listens Federal Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Statistics Syed Naveed Qamar presenting the national budget 2008-09 during National Assembly session at Parliament House. The minister presents the Rs. 2010 billion budget and size is 29.7% higher than the size of estimates for 2007-08. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Two federal ministers and an independent member, Monday, staged a walkout from the National Assembly against the government for not releasing development funds for the newly-merged tribal districts (ex-FATA) to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

An independent Member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan Agency Tribal Area, Mohsin Dawar raised a question during question hour session of the House and said why the government did not release development funds for the tribal districts (Ex-Fata). He said the government had allocated a development budget for the area but the government did not release funds so far. He said that the government has released Rs40 billion fund for military troops stationed in the areas.

While responding to the member, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that an amount of Rs50 billion has been released to the KP government so far (upto 17-02-23) during C.F.Y. 2022-23 to meet current expenditures. She said Rs115.2 billion (Rs60 billion for current expenditures and Rs55.2 billion for development) has been allocated during the current fiscal year 2022-23. She said the relevant ministry (Ministry for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives) is answerable for development funds.

Afterwards, Mohsin Dawar announced to stage a walkout from the House against the government for not releasing development funds for the merged tribal districts.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor and Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sajid Hussain Turi joined hands with Mohsin Dawar for staging a walkout.

Replying to another query, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said Pakistan had maintained a debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at 73.5 per cent during the period under review. She said the country’s total public debt was Rs52,721 billion till December 2022, including domestic debt of Rs33,116 billion and external debt of Rs19,605 billion.

She said most countries relied on the debt inflows to fulfil the shortfall in available resources to fund the government budget. She said the government borrowed to mainly finance its budget deficit approved by the parliament every year which included the Public Sector Development Programme, running the civil government, and more importantly paying interest on loans taken in the past.

Answering another question, the minister said the government was committed to an interest-free economy, and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in consultation with the Finance Division was working to devise a policy for adopting interest-free banking instruments.

She said that a committee had been constituted and deliberations were underway to prepare a transformational plan in that regard. She said the committee comprised officials from the SBP, the Finance Ministry, Islamic and commercial banks, and Ulema as the entire financial system would have to change. She said Islamic Banking witnessed an impressive improvement in the country in recent years.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi told the House while responding to a supplementary question a member that the incumbent government had provided Rs70-74 billion emergency relief to the flood victims from its own resources under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

He said that compensation cheques to the legal heirs of 115 flood victims who lost their lives in Punjab had already been given while only three were remaining due to some clearance issues by respective deputy commissioners of the districts.

He said the government had announced Rs1 million to the deceased person, Rs500,000 and Rs250,000 for fully destroyed and partially destroyed houses in the flood. He said the government had issued funds to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The NDMA had received data on the houses destroyed in recent floods from the three provinces, while data from two federating units was still awaited, he added.

He said the NDMA effectively coordinated disaster-related activities with the provincial government by extending due help under the NDMA Act on the direction of the prime minister and the federal government. He said the rates for loss of agriculture land and livestock had also been revised upwards.

In another reply to a question, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha informed the National Assembly that the government was planning to provide targeted subsidies on petroleum products.

Responding to various supplementary questions during question hour, she said that inflation jumped to 27.6 percent in January from 24.5 percent recorded in December. She said the average inflation during July 2022-January 2023 had reached 25.4 percent due to various reasons including the Russia-Ukraine war, higher international commodities prices, currency depreciation, and fiscal consolidation measures taken to improve the country’s macroeconomic conditions.

Later, the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Amendment Bill, 2023 and the Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Amendment Bill, 2023 were also laid before the House.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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