ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Monday unanimously recommended not to allocate a budget in the upcoming federal budget for the ministries and departments that have devolved to the provinces after the passage of the 18th Amendment, but still are working as parallel at the federal level.

The Senate Functional Committee on Devolution, chaired by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, also decided to seek detailed reports and briefings from the Planning Commission, the Finance Ministry as well as the related divisions as to why and how much finances are being allocated for these departments.

The committee decided to devise a plan for complete the devolution and ensure provincial autonomy in accordance with the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

The committee also held serious reservations on the non-functioning of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and sought three years report of its performance and decided to write a letter to the prime minister on the same issue.

In his remarks, the chairman committee emphasised that the meeting was aimed at seeking a briefing about the non-provision of rightful funds to the provinces by the federation despite the 18th amendment and the parallel spending of a critical amount of Rs 710 billion at the federal level, on devolved subjects.

He said that the World Bank in its recent report has revealed that this huge amount of money has been wasted from the national exchequer.

The committee members lamented that no budget following 2010 showed an expected decline in federal government spending, thus, showing that the 18th Amendment was never implemented in its letter and spirit.

Senator Taj Haider said that it is painful to see huge spending on parallel ministries. He said that along with the violation of the Constitution, it is also a huge loss to the national treasury.

Senator Mohammad Akram said that the tragedy of East Pakistan happened due to a similar situation, adding that at present, there is a tension-like situation between the provinces and the Centre.

Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that the transfer of powers to the provinces, the 7th NFC Award and the 18th Amendment are the main pillars and guiding principles of Pakistan's economic system.

However, she said that after the amendment, the NFC award is facing problems. She further stated that the 18th Amendment could not be fully implemented. She also admitted that parallel ministries are also functioning.

The committee also discussed that the undermined autonomy and resources of the provincial governments never allowed them to work independently, thus, resulting in budget deficits at the federal level.

The committee remarked that the federal government will have to take their hands off the provinces and also aid them to strengthen their capacity. The committee questioned the working of the Planning Commission against the spirit of the 18th Amendment and suggested that the federation should avoid interfering in the powers of the provinces.

The meeting was attended by senators, Taj Haider, Moula Bux Chandio, Haji Hidayatullah Khan, and Muhammad Akram, besides officers of the relevant ministries and departments.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Maqbool May 23, 2023 10:55am
Excellent recommendations, but will they ever be implemented ? Duplication is a waste of the country assets just to give futile employment.
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