A 417-billion-rupee question

The people of K-P as well as the rest of the country were shocked at the massive scale of destruction and casualties caused by a terrorist attack that blatantly targeted the police, a mosque, and an area falling in the red zone of Peshawar

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif described it as “the most distraught incident” since APS

According to an Al Jazeera report, “This is a highly secure area, but as you see there is no facial recognition, no fingerprint recognition, no ID cards that allow you in or out

It’s just that police stop you, they take a look at you and allow you in

” The IGP of the province threw up his hands in despair, admitting a security lapse

The Prime Minister wondered why standard things like a safe city project, forensics and DNA labs were not available

As the IGP agonised over the lack of resources, the Prime Minister asked pertinently: Where have the 417-billion-rupees gone? This woke up some leaders of the party that ruled the province for nearly ten years

A former provincial adviser directly concerned with the subject, lamented that the federal government had denied the province its rightful share of resources

The ex-speaker of the National Assembly grumbled about the historic neglect to fully implement the AGN Kazi formula on the net hydel profits

He also complained about the slow disbursement of resources under the FATA development plan and the failure to accommodate the promised share of the merged tribal districts in the next NFC award

Similar noises were made by the former state minister for parliamentary affairs

These are the usual concerns raised by each K-P finance minister in their budget speeches, whatever the political affiliation

However, what the Prime Minister was talking about was money allocated and fully disbursed, but not utilised for its stated purpose

One of the challengers did mention it but then went on to claim, falsely, that the money was for the rehabilitation of the tribal districts and not for counterterrorism and safety measures

Clause 3(2) of the 7th NFC award of 2010 states in no uncertain terms: “One percent of the net proceeds of the divisible pool of taxes shall be assigned to Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to meet the expenses of war on terror

” Clause 3(3) makes it clear that vertical distribution formula between the federal government and the provinces applies to 99%

In other words, the federal government and the other three provinces together contributed to the expenses of war on terror (ToT) to be incurred by K-P

While the amounts stated at the time of the budget are projected, the releases are based on actual collection and are made automatically by the State Bank every month as per the formula

There is no federal government involvement in this transfer

To complain that the release is less than projected makes no sense

The figure of Rs417 billion relates to actual releases from July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2022

From Rs14

6 billion in FY11, the ToT rose to Rs59 billion in FY22

It is budgeted at Rs68

6 billion in FY23

A corresponding increase in police and security spending is not visible

All we see is a belated allocation of half a billion in the current budget for Peshawar safe city

In FY22, a supplementary grant of Rs519

3 million was approved for CCTV cameras and a host of other items

Fresh police recruitment and equipment purchase get Rs4

15 billion

But the 417-billion-rupee question remains

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2023

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces

Date:11-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link