Finance ministry releases Rs12bn for erstwhile FATA without due diligence

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Finance has approved the release of around Rs12 billion to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) under the head of merged Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) without completing the due process and approval from departments concerned, it was learnt on Monday.

According to sources privy to this scribe, the amount was released without the due involvement of the Ministry of Planning and Development and Reforms.

However, officials at the finance ministry claim that the decision was taken keeping in view the urgency and special status of FATA for its infrastructural development.

As per the rules, releases are made to the provincial governments upon authorization of the same by the Planning, Development and Reforms Division. In case of KP too, the provincial government is required to provide a demand for release on a given/approved format to the planning ministry.

The PD&R Division, as per the set procedure, authorises the release of development budget after examination of the provincial government’s demand. Later, the Finance Division releases the amount to the provincial government.

The ministry officials claim that the decision of releasing the fund was made after assurances from concerned officials of the planning ministry that paperwork would be completed about the demand of the same amount.

The decision of early release of the fund was made during a meeting held recently at the finance ministry.

“The government, on the request of some influential lawmakers from KP and FATA, had asked the Ministry of Finance to immediately release the development budget for FATA,” sources informed.

They maintain that influential PTI leaders and lawmakers from KP/FATA managed to convince the Prime Minister House to force the finance ministry for early release of development budget.

Interestingly, the ministry, which has been facilitating the merged FATA, is not taking the same interest in other special areas, including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The AJK and GB are required to follow the due process of getting approval from PD&R Division for releases of the approved budget.

It is pertinent to mention that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has allocated a record budget of over Rs152 billion for development of merged FATA.

As per documents, this year FATA has been allocated Rs1.3 billion for four identified projects, Rs48 billion under 10-year development plan and around Rs17 billion for the rehabilitation of IDPs. Besides, Rs63 billion were allocated under the heads of grants for merged FATA, grants for Levies and Khasadar and others.

In sharp contrast, the total grants/allocation for GB and AJK were Rs87.89 billion; Rs54.89 billion for AJK and Rs33 billion for GB.

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