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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance has asked the Finance Ministry to raise a supplementary grant for the provision of funds to the ECP for election in Punjab and submit it to the cabinet, thereby, letting the National Assembly decide whether to release funds or not.

As soon as the proceeding of the committee meeting presided over by Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh started, the chairman inquired whether Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would turn up or not upon which he was told that he is in Saudi Arabia. The chairman deplored that neither Miftah Ismail nor Ishaq Dar attended the finance committee meetings during the last one year.

In a brief media talk after the committee meeting, the Minister of State for Finance said that the court’s order was to provide funds from the consolidated account and take post-facto approval of the expenditure.

NA panel to discuss ‘ECP funding’ matter today

She added that the committee has directed the Finance Ministry to follow the process and the sense of the meeting was that the National Assembly may not give post-facto approval of the fund; therefore, for prior approval supplementary grant be raised.

Earlier, during the meeting, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said the Supreme Court has directed the State Bank to provide funds from the Federal Consolidated Fund for the general election in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He added that as the election was due in 2023, the fund was not allocated in the ongoing fiscal year for the purpose.

Now on the direction of the Supreme Court, Rs21 billion will be approved from the Federal Consolidated Fund as the other expenditure to the Election Commission and according to the law, the approval of the National Assembly is required in this regard.

Attorney General of Pakistan, Mansoor Usman Khan told the committee that Article 84 explains spending from the Federal Consolidated Fund can be done in three ways;(i) direct charged that does not require the National Assembly’s approval; (ii) through Act of the Parliament and; (iii) other expenditure and Supreme Court had directed that to use other expenditure for election in Punjab and KP and then take post-facto approval of the used amount.

The AG added that if the National Assembly refused to give ex-post facto approval will become difficult, therefore, prior approval from the National Assembly be taken. He said that the Supreme Court’s order has to comply with the executive.

Birjees Tahir said as the committee rejected unanimously the money bill on 13 April 2023 there was no need of having a committee meeting again.

On asking, the State Bank of Pakistan high-ups said that they received a notice from the Supreme Court. We were asked to share the details of funds in the Federal Consolidated Fund and whether SBP can provide it to the ECP for the election. We told the SC that we can allocate money but permission for the utilisation of fund would be given by the Ministry of Finance.

Syed Naveed Qamar said that the Parliament, the Government and the Judiciary have a role in the Constitution and the parliament’s role is to legislate and authorize the use of funds.

Naveed Qamar said that he does not agree with the Law Minister and the Attorney General that the Standing Committee should send the matter of the release of funds to the National Assembly again as the Parliament has given its decision on this matter.

Chairman of the Standing Committee Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh said that the consensus in the committee is that the matter should be taken to the National Assembly through the Ministry of Finance.

Naveed Qamar said it is necessary to make arrangements and allow the use of money, but for the first time, an attempt is being made to take the privilege of making a budget and using money, from the Parliament. He added said that the officials of the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank are being brought under pressure from the threat of contempt of court. He said that if this is the case, what will happen to the contempt of the parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Tulukan Mairandi Apr 18, 2023 10:17am
Sorry, not happening. October it is. In which time we will be a nation in meltdown
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