Frontier agrees on funds mechanism
By Zakir Hassnain
PESHAWAR: Opposition and government benches were unanimous in the Provincial Assembly on Monday that the mechanism for approval of development schemes and the release of funds for them under the Tameer-e-Sarhad Programme (TSP) was complicated and caused delay in the projects.
Almost all speakers were critical of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government for ignoring their constituencies in development projects under the TSP, with some suggesting that the TSP was designed for only Bannu and Dir, the hometown of the chief minister and senior minister.
Deputy Speaker Ikramullah Shahid, who belongs to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq (JUI-S), a component of the MMA, said the objective in forming the MMA was to provide relief and justice to people and the chief minister promised the house that the opposition would not be pushed to the wall. “I don’t know about the opposition but we (JUI-S) have been pushed to the wall,” he told the house.
Mr Shahid said Mardan had been totally ignored in development schemes under the TSP. The deputy speaker complained funds were not being distributed equally and judiciously. He said his constituency had equal rights to provincial resources but was getting nothing. “We complain about the federal government behaviour and say it does not distribute money equally and judiciously. But what do you (the provincial government) give us?” he asked.
The deputy speaker said, “The TSP is not a name for two persons or two constituencies,” referring to the CM and the senior minister and their hometowns.”
Abdul Akbar Khan, parliamentary leader for the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), said some bureaucrats and journalists thought TSP funds went into the pockets of members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs). “That’s not true. These funds belong to the constituency people,” he said.
The PPPP leader said the budget percentage of the TSP funds was going down with each passing day. “It was 20 percent of the Annual Development Programme in 1989-90, and now is four percent of the ADP.” Awami National Party (ANP) Parliamentary Leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour said the process was long and complex. “We have not been able to complete even old schemes due to the non-release of funds,” the ANP leader said.
Mr Bilour said the CM had announced Rs 5 million in development funds for each MPA, promising another Rs 5 million for the next six months. He demanded the government release Rs 10 million because one year had passed.
Mr Bilour said the MMA talked of Islam yet Islam taught justice which was not being done. Taking the floor, Anwar Kamal Marwat, parliamentary leader for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said no development programme could be run without a formula, system or mechanism. He said the government had ignored the opposition in the TSP and ADP.
“Even the members from the ruling party are objecting to the distribution of funds under the TSP,” he said. Mr Marwat said the funds were being delayed deliberately under the TSP. He demanded the process for funds simplified and more funds were given for development.
Dr Muhammad Saleem, an independent MPA, also complained about the delay in the approval of development funds. Dr Simin Mehmood Jan, of the Pakistan Muslim Leaque-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-QA), urged the government to change its guideline on development schemes and include mothercare, schools, tube-wells and embroidery as projects for the 2003-2004. Saeed Khan described the Tameer-e-Sarhad Programme as “Tameer-e-Bannu Programme”, saying Bannu was the CM’s hometown. MMA’s Nadir Shah said the mechanism was complicated. He suggested funds be transferred to district coordination officers who should then send them to different departments for development schemes. MMA’s Yasmeen Khalid demanded a method for the release of funds. She also demanded increase in the funds.
Maulana Nizamuddin of the MMA, said they had already presented their plans and there was no delay from their side, adding it was the government that was delaying work on the development schemes. He also demanded staff for the TSP. Speaker Bakht Jehan adjourned the house till Tuesday (today).