Senate Panel Recommends Scrapping Allocation for Devolved Ministries in Upcoming Budget

The Senate Functional Committee on Devolution on Monday unanimously recommended not to allocate a budget for the ministries/departments created parallel to the devolved subjects at the federal level, in the upcoming budget.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Mushtaq Ahmed here at the Parliament House.

The committee decided to seek detailed reports and briefings from the Planning Commission, the Finance Ministry as well as the related divisions as to why and how finances are being allocated for these departments. The committee decided to devise a plan to complete the devolution and ensure provincial autonomy in accordance with the 18th Amendment.

The committee  expressed serious reservations about the non-functioning of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and sought 3 years report of its performance. The committee decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister on the same issue.

The committee chairman emphasized that the purpose of the meeting was to seek a briefing about the non-provision of rightful funds to the provinces by the federation despite the 18th Amendment and the parallel spending of Rs. 710 billion at the federal level, on devolved subjects. The World Bank in its recent report has revealed that this huge amount of money has been wasted from the government coffers.

The committee members lamented that no budget following 2010 showed an expected decline in federal government spending, thus showing that the 18th Amendment was never implemented in its letter and spirit. Minister of State for Finance Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said on the occasion that the transfer of powers to the provinces, the NFC Award, and the 18th Amendment are the main pillars and guiding principles of Pakistan’s economic system, however, the lacuna of the introduction of 18th Amendments after 7th NFC  award caused administrative problems. She said that the implementation of the 18th Amendment terribly failed, admitting that parallel ministries are also functioning.

The committee also discussed that the undermined autonomy and resources of the provincial governments never allowed them to work independently thus resulting in budget deficits at the federal level.

The committee remarked that the federal government will have to take its hands off the provinces and also aid them to strengthen their capacity.

The committee questioned the working of the Planning Commission against the spirit of the 18th Amendment and suggested that the federation should avoid interfering in the powers of the provinces.

The meeting was attended by Senator Taj Haider, Senator Moula Bux Chandio, Senator Haji Hidayat Ullah Khan, and Senator Muhammad Akram. Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Joint Secretary CCI, and officials from the Finance Ministry were also in attendance.

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