PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday clipped the wings of the Ehtesab Commission when it comes to making enquiries into ongoing schemes.
The provincial assembly passed the K-P Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Act 2016, making changes in Section 35 of the law which defines the jurisdiction of the directorate general.
A new subsection was added to Section 35 which states, “The Directorate General shall not take action in matters involving pure procedural lapses in any ongoing project. It shall only monitor the ongoing schemes of the government and intimate the department about any procedural lapses and recommend corrective measures in such a manner that it shall not affect the running of ongoing projects.”
Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Muhammad Ali Shah tried to insert an amendment in the bill to include ongoing projects in the jurisdiction of the directorate general. However, this was opposed by members of the treasury, particularly Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
Khattak said ongoing schemes were removed from the ambit of this law as enquiries and investigations were tantamount to hurdles in the execution of such projects and their timely conclusion.
The law was discussed clause by clause by the select committee of the assembly and presented in the house, which passed it through a majority vote.
The new amendments also change the criteria for the appointment of the director general of the commission. The DG shall be either a retired government officer in BS-20 or have a masters’ degree with fifteen years of administrative experience, including three years of investigation in a leadership position.
He may also be a retired judge of a high court or a lawyer with 15 years of practice in prosecution. Also, people with 15 years’ experience in investigation/prosecution are eligible.
The government also presented the bill for the Galiyat Development Authority Ordinance 2016 and defeated a resolution of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Aamna Sardar who was demanding its disapproval.
She called the ordinance “a total disaster” and asked the assembly to disapprove it. The ordinance calls for the reconstitution of the authority and it shall have an 11-member committee, including seven from the private sector and four from the government sector.
She was against the significant representation given to the private sector in the committee and insisted locals were ignored, while people with a single farmhouse in the vicinity would be members. Sardar called it ‘privatisation” of government land in Galiyat and accused the Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan of lying to her on the floor of the house. He had earlier said government land would not be privatised. Inayat responded to her query and said, “I stand by my words and government land will not be privatised.”
“This will be a government owned company like WSSP and PESCO with its own board of directors. Companies are made because work can’t be done quickly in the government system,” he asserted. The minister assured locals would be given due representation in the board and covered with rules made through this law.
Fakhar-e-Azam Khan of PPP raised a constitutional issue related to unchanged rules of business following the 18th Constitutional Amendment which transferred chief executive powers from the governor to the chief minister.
“The rules of business date back to 1985 which vest chief executive powers to the governor. Therefore, decisions made after 2010 in K-P are unconstitutional.”
He suggested the issue be given to the law reforms committee, but the chief minister said the matter was an important one so he would like to sit in the meetings himself. As a result, he asked Speaker Asad Qaiser to constitute a special committee for the matter.