Center cuts allocations to tribal districts by Rs 21 billion, complains KP – Pakistan
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government complained on Saturday that the center had cut 21 billion rupees from its annual allocations to tribal districts in the province in the next financial year.
Addressing a press conference at the Civil Secretariat here, Provincial Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said that for the first time since Fata’s merger with KP, the tribal region would receive less funds from the center compared to the previous year.
He said the allocations for the tribal districts in the current financial year stood at 131 billion rupees but had been reduced to 110 billion rupees in the next one.
Mr. Jhagra said that the 2021-2022 federal budget provided 60 billion rupees for the tribal districts as current expenditure, 17 billion rupees for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and 54 billion rupees for the development of the region.
Minister warns cut in funding will negatively impact rise
He said the upcoming federal budget does not include any funding for the rehabilitation of displaced people, while the development budget is reduced to 50 billion rupees.
The minister said ex-Fata allowances for current expenses will remain at 60 billion rupees in the next financial year.
He said the PTI government had increased funds for tribal districts more than three times.
Mr. Jhagra said the current expenditure of the tribal districts had already exceeded Rs60 billion and was likely to reach Rs62 billion by the end of the outgoing financial year.
He also said that the federal government had increased salaries of its employees by 15% in addition to pensions, while non-wage spending in the region would also increase due to infrastructure development.
The Minister questioned if the current expenditure of the Tribal Districts amounted to Rs 62 billion in the current financial year, how justified was the Federal Government in allocating Rs 60 billion in the year next.
He complained that the federal government did not formally engage the provincial government about these allocations before the budget was announced.
Mr Jhagra said he took the initiative to go to Islamabad and held informal meetings with the relevant officials and tried to explain to them the realities on the ground for the necessary funds.
“We [Peshawar] did not even receive a single item on Islamabad Tribal Region budget,” he said.
The minister said the finance ministry shared budget estimates for the tribal area with the federal government on June 6, but there was no response.
He said that in the last quarter of the current financial year, the government had not released any development funds, insisting that it had withheld such funds nationwide.
Mr. Jhagra said that the budget for the tribal areas was not part of the public sector development program and instead the province received these funds under the National Finance Commission to manage the affairs of the region.
He said that the federal government had initially stopped the release of development funds of 17 billion rupees for the tribal areas, but half of that money had been released after much shouting, with the remaining 8.5 billion rupees being still unpaid.
The minister said he had taken up the issue with Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail who pledged funding of Rs 74-80 billion for the current expenditures of the tribal area and insisted that he highlight it. in his budget speech, but the promise was not kept.
He said he learned that the federal cabinet had discussed the issue but that his KP members, including MP Mohsin Dawar and those of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, reportedly objected to an increase in current spending for tribal districts. .
Mr. Jhagra said that if the necessary funds were not provided to the provincial government, it would reduce development expenditure.
He said the provincial government would not drop the centre’s budget cut.
Posted in Dawn, June 12, 2022