PESHAWAR: The Senate’s Functional Committee on Devolution on Thursday demanded from the federal government to announce the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award without any delay and also to call a meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) to resolve issues of the provinces.
The Centre should pay Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) its arrears of the Net Hydel Profit and Balochistan its arrears of the gas royalty. The federal government should also declare tobacco a provincial crop rather than a federal one and also establish a separate and independent secretariat for the CCI, it urged.
The Senate committee meeting, chaired by Senator Mir Kabir in Peshawar, placed the demands through a declaration shared with the media after the meeting. It also demanded increase in the Senate’s powers and asked the federal government to devolve the higher education to the provinces.
The PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar highlighted ‘the ongoing encroachment’ on powers of the federal, provincial and local governments and called for measures to reverse the trend.
“The unelected establishment is seeking to take over the functions of the elected government. And within the elected structures the federation is encroaching upon the domain of provinces which in turn are reluctant to give powers to local governments in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.
Babar said the issue of state institutions working within their limits has been thoroughly discussed recently in the Senate and the chairman reserved his ruling which is expected to be announced in the forthcoming session of the upper house.
“The provinces should also look inwardly and devolve powers genuinely to local governments to create a strong moral base for demanding their rights from federation. The smaller provinces should also join hands in requisitioning meetings of the CCI in case the federation is reluctant to do so,” he added.
Senator Ilyas Bilour expressed concerns over the No Objection Certificates (NOCs) needed by the NGOs and foreign delegations for entering the K-P. “The K-P is not a ‘no go area’ than why a NOCs is mandatory for the NGOs to get to K-P and why the federal government does not issue them NOCs?” he questioned, adding that the same NGOs can visit and work in other provinces where they need no NOCs.
Senator Tahir Mashhadi of the MQM noted that the K-P government gave the committee the cold shoulder on its visit. “We are not asking for plots from the K-P chief secretary rather we have come here to empower them then why the chief secretary is not seeing us,” he said, adding that in Sindh the chief minister, his six cabinet members and secretaries received the committee and sat with them.
Senator Usman Kakar said they have reservations over the Constitution.
“We have objections over the Constitution in which the Senate has been given lesser powers. We also have reservations over the Article-62and 63 of the Constitution. A judge shall not have the powers to declare a person Sadiq and Amin,” he said.
He also criticised the federal government in delaying the devolution process saying that the federal government is transferring only those departments to the province which are not fruitful and whose devolution is in its favour.
Kakar also criticised the federal government for ignoring the smaller provinces in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Senator Taj Haider said only two provinces will get developed due to the CPEC. Senator Rubina Khalid and Senator Mohsin Aziz also attended the meeting.
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