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ISLAMABAD: Finance Ministry is likely to deduct Rs 45.6 billion from Balochistan’s NFC (National Finance Commission) share against agriculture long-outstanding dues as Centre has already lost Rs 500 billion since 2015 under this account, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

At a recent meeting held in the Finance Ministry, under the chairmanship of Secretary Finance, Imdad Ullah Bosal, Additional Secretary, Power Division, Zafar Abbas noted that out of countrywide total of 1.5 million tube wells, 1.2 million were operated on diesel and no subsidy was involved.

However, 374,000 tube wells were operated on electricity which drew a substantial amount of subsidy from federal government.

Upcoming NFC: FD seeks proposals from ministries, provinces

According to him, during last financial year Rs 98 billion were allocated whereas Rs 80 billion has been allocated during CFY for this purpose.

“Agriculture being provincial subject, federal government may get out of this subsidy regime and Discos should charge full amount of electricity consumed to the tube well owners. lf any subsidy is needed Provincial Governments may consider it at its own level,” the sources quoted Additional Secretary Power Division as saying. The meeting was further informed that as a result of a Cabinet’s decision in 2015, federal government provided subsidy on electricity consumed by agricultural tube wells in Balochistan.

The federal government was following that decision in letter and spirit; however, the said decision was not being followed by the consumers (tube well owners) and provincial governments due to which the federal government had sustained a loss of Rs 500 billion, with no chance of recovery.

The source said, additional secretary Power proposed that the decision taken in 2015 was required to be reversed.

Secretary Finance Sindh, who was also present in the meeting said that collection of General Sales Tax (GST) on electricity consumption may be collected by the concerned Distribution Company (Disco), not by the provincial government.

Additional secretary Power Division, however, clarified that the matter under discussion was not about GST on electricity, but of subsidized electricity provided by the federal government to agricultural tube wells.

He mentioned that Power Division pending recoveries towards provincial governments accounted for Rs 134 billion and special Finance secretary KPK stated that he would inform the Agriculture department and Cabinet will take a decision on it.

Finance secretary Balochistan stated that the due amounts towards Balochistan government were still not reconciled with Quetta Electric Supply Company despite numerous sessions.

He proposed reconciliation of the payable amount through a third party. Power Division clarified that dues of QESCO towards Balochistan was a separate issue, and they were focusing only on the principal amount due on account of agricultural tube wells in Balochistan.

Secretary Finance advised additional secretary Power Division to talk to CEO Qesco for immediate reconciliation with Government of Balochistan, the sources continued.

Imdad Ullah Bosal recalled that the matter was discussed time and again in detail, however, it stood where it was 4 months ago. He informed the provincial government that if reconciliation was not done quickly, the government may consider deducting Rs 45.6 billion at source from NFC share.

Federal government has already launched anti-theft and recovery drive across the country and recovered Rs 50 billion so far.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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