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Treasury says budget for 2023-24 prepared, spent by caretakers

In his winding-up speech over the general debate on the annual budget for the current financial year

Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) takes oath during the first session of the Provincial Assembly, at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in Peshawar on February 28, 2024. — PPI/File

PESHAWAR: The ruling Sunni Ittehad Council members in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday called for a probe after approving the annual budget for 2023-24 which was mostly spent and utilized by the caretaker government for the last eight months in the province.

In his winding-up speech over the general debate on the annual budget for the current financial year, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Aftab Alam Afridi said the present government would pass a huge chunk of the annual budget under compulsion that was prepared and spent by, what he called “unconstitutional” interim setup.

“As we have a majority in the House and we are legally bound to pass the budget presented in the provincial assembly, I will suggest that a high-level committee should be constituted to probe the developmental funds, projects and illegal recruitments done during the caretaker government in the province,” he said.

The minister added that the last two interim governments were formed on the recommendations of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government at the Centre.

He said that the interim government had 90 days tenure but the PDM-dominated caretaker ministers and advisors had not only done developmental works but also recruited about 2,700 people in the government departments.

He said they (caretaker ministers) must be held accountable for their “illegal works”, he said adding a high-level committee must probe and punish those responsible for corruption and misuse of power.

Earlier, members from treasury and opposition benches during the general debates on the budgetary figures suggested that the budgets prepared and utilized by the interim governments and bureaucracy should not be approved.

The finance minister had presented the annual budget for 2023-24 with total revenue target of Rs 1456 billion and estimated expenditures with Rs 1363 billion.

On Wednesday, Ishanullah Miankhel, Nilofar Babar of the Pakistan People Party, Sajjad Khan, Jalal Khan, Shehla Bano of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Mohammad Riaz of Jamiat Ulema Islam-F from the opposition benches while Arif Amadzai, Zahid Chan Zeb, Akbar Ayub, Rajab Ali, Khalid Khan and Malik Adeel Iqbal of Sunni Ittehad Council participated in the general debates.

Ihsanullah Miakhel from the Kulachi tehsil of Dera Ismail Khan district and Sajjad Khan from Kohistan criticized the previous governments for neglecting their underprivileged and backward areas in the developmental works and projects.

Ihsanullah Khan said that the local residents in his constituency (Kulachi) wanted clean drinking water while the decades-old irrigation system Roth-Kohi had been non-functional for the last many years due to scarcity of water in the area.

“Those who can afford shift to other areas as there were no basic facilities and services for daily life,” he said and added that the present government must focus and allocate handsome funds in the upcoming annual budget.

The MPA from Kohistan district said the government functionaries, including doctors and police officers, were reluctant to perform duties in their areas that had adversely affected the areas with respect of administration, health and other services.

Similarly, he added, the people in all three Kohistan districts had been deprived of developmental works and infrastructure for the last many years, saying that Azad Jammu and Kashmir-like situation could emerge in Kohistan if the government did not pay attention to their basic rights in government jobs and developmental schemes.

The opposition MPAs criticized the KP government for not allocating and releasing funds to the elected representatives under the Local Government system who had been on the protest for the last several weeks in the province.

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