ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Chief Minister, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azam Khan has sought due financial share of the province from the federal government under the Constitution with the objective of fixing its present financial quagmire.
In a letter to caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar, the caretaker provincial head stated that the current situation of the province has compelled him to write the letter to draw Prime Minister’s attention to certain critically important issues anchored in the Constitution of Pakistan 1973.
According to the caretaker Chief Minister, the bomb blast in Bajaur on July 30, 2023 which claimed 63 precious lives is a result of decades of militancy, which again has its roots in the peculiar situation of the region.
The Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lags behind the rest of Pakistan, owing to, inter-alia, locational disadvantage, disruption caused to the economic cycle of the Province, and the need to adhere to the constitutional scheme which provides a coherent mechanism for regulating the relationship between the Federation and the Provinces, he added.
The panacea for militancy, poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, dearth of infrastructure and other ills is the revival of economic activity in the Province. If the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is given access to its rightful dues, under various heads promised and enjoined by the Constitution, then the precarious financial position of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can be averted and the profuse malaise curtailed, Khan continued.
Chief Minister further contended that amongst the various heads under which receivable payments are due to the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are as follows:
The NFC Award: Following the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award requires a correction resulting in an increase in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa share from 74.62 % to 19.6 %.
The said increase in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa share corresponds to the monetary figure of Rs. 262 billion for the year 2023-24. Meanwhile, the Federal Government has allocated only Rs. 123 billion leaving a shortfall of Rs. 139 billion for the period in question.
FATA Development Plan (Rs. 100 billion: The Commitment of the Federal Cabinet on March 2, 2017, in anticipation of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to provide 3% of NFC/Rs. 100 billion annually to the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be spent on the development of ex-FATA to bring it at par with the rest of the country needs to be fulfilled. Against Rs. 500 billion due from 2018 to 2023 the Federal Government has allocated a mere Rs. 103 billion so far for the period in question, leading to a shortfall of Rs. 397 billion.
Net Hydel Profit: Outstanding payments of Rs. 1.5 trillion for the year 2016 to 2023 are pending under the head of Net Hydel Profit as per the Kazi Committee Methodology.
According to caretaker Chief Minister, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in its meeting held on November 20, 2014 decided to allocate 100 MMCFD gas for setting up thermal power projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and accordingly a Memorandum of Undersigning (MoU) was signed on February 25, 2016 between the Federal Government and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Presently the industrial sector of the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is consuming 40 MMCFD gas. The ECC of Cabinet may reallocate 100 MMCFD gas from the ‘power sector’ of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to its’ industrial sector’.
To offset Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s locational disadvantage Chief Minister has requested the Federal Government to facilitate the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in expanding wheeling of power under the Pehur Model to offset its locational disadvantage and promote economic activity.
PEDO presently produces about 165 MW of hydroelectricity. It has successfully undertaken supply of electricity through wheeling from its 18 MW Pehur Hydro Power Station and sells units of electricity through an open competitive bidding process. The model is running successfully since April 2019.
“Proposals contained in my request constitutes adherence to the Special Provisions encapsulated in Chapter 3 Part V of the Constitution. The special provisions propound a road map out of the present financial quagmire for the Province,” he wrote adding that the time to act upon the proposal is now.
Chief Minister stated that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have suffered for too long as a result of non-adherence to the Special Provisions of the Constitution and any further delay jeopardizes the harmony and peace of the Province, particularly the Newly Merged Districts (NMDs).
“I hope that under your leadership (PM) the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is given its due share and rights in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kakar desired that Deputy Chairman Planning Commission draft a response to the letter in consultation with Ministries of Finance, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and Power.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023