‘Distribute KP funds according to NFC criteria’
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has allocated just 2.8 percent of the total development funds for fiscal year 2011-12 to the province’s chronically poor southern districts that have been severely affected by Taliban-linked militancy, according to findings.
“The criteria for distribution of public funds are not clear. If the NFC criteria are applied, the due share of the southern districts of the province will increase from 2.8 percent to 21 percent, and that of Hazara from 6.1 percent to 19 percent,” said Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation Chairman Ali Asghar Khan.
He was speaking at a people’s assembly convened by the foundation.
The assembly endorsed the demand that the Provincial Finance Commission should be tasked to negotiate criteria on the lines of NFC, and ensure fair distribution of development funds among all districts.
The members accused KP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti of focusing on his own constituency, and not on the underdeveloped and militancy-hit districts such as Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.
“Equitable use of public funds is the greatest contributor to a people’s sense of belonging, and is a force that binds them together,” Ali Asghar told the assembly.
He pointed out that many of the challenges Pakistan faced might be traced to “improper use of public funds that benefit a few”.
“Areas that do not receive adequate funds are naturally prone to a sense of marginalisation and alienation,” he said. The chairman urged legislators to play their due role as public representatives to ensure transparency, accountability and judicious use of public funds.
This, he said, would strengthen democratic institutions in the country.
Ali Asghar criticised the retention of more than two-thirds of the total development outlay of Rs 85.14 billion as “block” funds, and demanded transparency in all public-budget allocations.
He gave the example of block allocation of Rs 300 million made for educational scholarships for students in the province in 2010-11, which appeared to benefit students from the chief minister’s home district of Mardan.
Inequity had been extended to allocations for flood rehabilitation in KP’s budget for 2011-12, he claimed.
District Kohistan – that accounted for 12 percent of the total affected population of the province – was allocated only Rs 25 million of the total outlay of Rs 8.46 billion set aside for flood rehabilitation, Ali Asghar elaborated.
“On the basis of the numbers of victims, Kohistan should receive over Rs 1 billion, or an estimated 40 times more than the amount allocated in 2011-12.”
“We were devastated by the 2010 flood, and are still waiting for government support,” said Haji Ghani of the Kandian Valley in Kohistan during the question-answer session.
Citizens from Kohistan, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Abbottabad, Haripur, Dir, Malakand, Swat, Peshawar and other parts of the province participated in the assembly. Speaking on the occasion, MPA Qalandar Lodhi of the PML-Q said he supported the demand for specifying allocations, and opposed blocked funds. Shibli Faraz of the PTI stressed the need for ensuring that budgets were properly allocated and used.
KP Minister for Higher Education Qazi Asad said that fairness and transparency in budgets was important, but the “culture of patronage politics” would only change through legislations.