NWFP Assembly: Not getting a piece of the pie
* Districts not getting equal share of ADP funds
PESHAWAR: The Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians in the Frontier Assembly have complained that twelve districts in the province received only Rs 430 million while three were given Rs 433 million from the Annual Development Fund.
“It’s a gigantic disparity in the distribution of development funds. It’s a great injustice,” Abdul Akbar Khan, provincial parliamentary leader for the PPPP, told the house while opening the debate with the Provincial Finance Commission (PFC). Mr Khan feared this disparity was likely to give birth to hatred between the districts and he called on the government to treat all districts equally. The PPPP leader said Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Malakand, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Buner, Chitral and Lakki Marwat districts, which have 62 MPAs and generate around 90 percent of provincial revenues, were given only Rs 430 million for development projects under the ADP. However, Bannu, Lower Dir and Karak, with 10 MPAs and which happen to be the home districts of the chief minister, the senior minister and the law minister, were given Rs 433 million.
Returning to the PFC issue, after discussing the disparity of ADP fund allocation between the districts, Mr Khan said under the law, the PFC should give district administrations 35 percent of the province’s funds. The other three provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, each gave their district governments 35 percent, he said. “But in our province, they are allocating local governments 60 percent of the funds,” he said, which meant less funding for MPAs. Earlier, Local Bodies Minister Sardar Muhammad Idrees had said in the house that NWFP districts received 60 percent of the divisible pool and the government had already released Rs 880 million in this regard.
On a point of order, Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-QA) demanded an honorarium for councillors. Minister Sardar Muhammad Idrees said there was no restriction on the provision of an honorarium. He said the Balochistan government was paying councillors Rs 1,000. Mr Idrees said there were 21,000 councillors in 957 union councils in the Frontier province and the government had limited resources. However, he said, he would not object to an honorarium if a decision were made.
Riffat Akbar Swati of the PPP-Sherpao, objected to a photograph displayed at an industrial exhibition at Peshawar, which she said depicted the face of a woman and the lower part of a horse. “It is disgraceful. We have a government of ulema in the province and women are being humiliated,” she said. Opposition women members cried “Shame, shame” in response to her objection. Her remarks triggered a verbal clash between her and Law Minister Malik Zafar Azam. Ms Swati said the MMA government was a failure.
In a joint adjournment motion, independent MPA Dr Muhammad Salim, MMA’s Abdul Majid Khan and Pir Muhammad said the Bank of Khyber (BoK) had launched a house and car loan scheme for government servants. They said the bank wanted customers to pledge land or another asset to acquire the loan which could be used to build a house or buy a car. They argued that if a person had land why would they apply for a loan in the first place.
The MPAs demanded the BoK deduct instalments from their monthly salaries. Health Minister Inayatullah Khan said the government had instructions from the State Bank of Pakistan that loans should not be given without any security or guarantee. The adjournment motion was placed pending.
On a Call Attention Notice, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), said there was no proper service structure for female nurses who were not compensated in proportion to the work they did. He said their pay scale and grade was lower than nurses in other provinces.
Mr Bilour said in the Punjab, one nurse looked after 10 patients while in the NWFP, there was one female nurse per 50 patients. Health Minister Inayatullah agreed with Mr Bilour and said the government would improve the service structure little by little. MMA’s Maulana Nizamuddin and Irfanullah pointed out irregularities in the transfer of tehsildars and patwaris. They alleged that revenue department officials had transferred tehsildars and patwaris to areas like Chitral where no one was ready to work and had then halted the transfers by taking bribes.
Health Minister Inayatullah Khan presented the North West Frontier Province (Medical Relief) Endowment Fund Bill, 2004. PPPP’s Abdul Akbar Khan opposed the bill. Acting Speaker Ikramullah Shahid adjourned the house till Monday, March 29. —Staff Report