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Treasury, opposition question constitutional status of caretakers

Khalid Kheshgi
Wednesday, May 15, 2024

PESHAWAR: In a rare show of unity, the members from treasury and opposition benches in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday suggested that the provincial assembly should not approve the expenditure, development projects and agreements that were reached by what they called ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ caretaker government in the province.

During the general debate over the annual budget for 2023-24, the lawmakers from across the aisle questioned the credibility and constitutional status of the caretaker government that was extended to more than 90 days.

They said the caretaker chief minister, ministers, advisers and special assistants utilised development and non-development funds behind their constitutional orbit.

The present Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government/ Sunni Ittehad Council, came to power as a result of February 8 polls, had presented the annual budget for the current financial year with a total volume of Rs1,456 billion.

The lawmakers from treasury and opposition benches criticised the budget figures where the caretaker government spent funds for about eight months while the revenue for the remaining four months would be spent and collected by the incumbent elected government.

Pakistan People’s Party MPA Ahmad Karim Kundi, who is younger brother of the incumbent governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the provincial government had no power to approve the budget.

He pointed out that the Constitution of Pakistan had given this right to the provincial assembly and the Parliament to prepare, debate and pass development and non-development expenditure and set revenue targets and goals for the financial year.

“The incumbent government has no role in the preparation of the current budget as it was prepared and documented by ‘babucracy’ (rule by bureaucrats) for the province,” he said. He added that the ruling party must take bold steps to turn down the bureaucracy-prepared budget.

The MPA said his party had the credit to announce the 7th National Finance Commission Award in its last government where the share of the provinces was increased from 37 percent to 57 percent.

The PPP government had given due share and arrears of the net hydel profit and other accounts to the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2008-2013 but the province was deprived of its due share in the last two governments in the Centre.

“The Pakistan People’s Party stands by the provincial government in its fights for getting provincial rights, dues and arrears,” he said.

He added that there should be a serious approach and proper platform for the winning rights for the province. “Don’t become Sultan Rahi or Badar Munir (late film stars) and stop delivering film dialogues while demanding rights for provinces from the federal government,” he said while referring to Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur’s rhetorical statements last week.

He said the PTI-led government adopted meaningful silence over the recent amendment to the IRSA Act (Indus River System Authority).

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been deprived of its due share of water being utilized by other provinces.

Sobia Shahid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) while tearing the budget copies said the PTI enjoyed absolute majority in the provincial assembly, therefore, it should make history by rejecting the budget documents for the current financial year.

Mohammad Rishad and Sardar Shah Jehan Khan of PMLN also participated in the general debate on the annual budget for 2023-24 and criticised the previous elected and caretaker governments for the prevailing crisis in the province for the last 10 years. The session was adjourned till Wednesday afternoon.