–Federal minister criticises CM’s discretionary power over uplift funds
–Buzdar says Punjab govt doesn’t believe in extravagant utilisation of public money
ISLAMABAD: In a surprise move, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Friday criticised the “availability of discretionary funds to chief ministers”, saying such a practice was “against public interest” and a violation of Article 140-A of the constitution.
In a tweet, Fawad said that the problem was not with the Punjab government, but the way resources were being distributed.
“The way federation distributes funds among provinces, the same way funds should be distributed among districts (of a province). [However] chief ministers act like monarchs which goes against the public interest,” the minister stated.
The tweets showed the displeasure of the federal minister with the Punjab government headed by Imran’s blue-eyed Usman Buzdar.
According to the sources in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Fawad took Chief Minister Buzdar to task during the core committee meeting of the party. He chided him, saying the party was under pressure due to the Punjab government’s poor performance.
“Neither the political leadership in Punjab government is delivering nor the administrative side is performing any better. Out of Rs370 billion annual development budget of Punjab, only Rs77bn have been released till date,” the source quoted the minister as saying.
He went on to say that the government was sitting on the funds instead of their proper utilisation that was adding fuel to people’s fury.
According to the source, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Punjab government to issue funds and divert them to districts on an immediate basis.
However, Buzdar took exception to Fawad’s outburst.
“The Punjab government treats the exchequer as public property and the chief minister has ended the culture of extravagant spendings,” an official handout responded to the minister’s tirade.
“We have controlled the leakages of funds to a certain extent as the past regimes had misused public funds. The government has saved millions of rupees in terms of security,” the statement added.
A source in the PTI told Pakistan Today that the prime minister was unhappy with Fawad Chaudhry’s move of making his views on Punjab government public and the minister may face ire of the prime minister soon.
Dr Salman Shah, an adviser to the chief minister on economic affairs, agreed with Fawad. He said the allocations to district governments should be made under the Provincial Finance Commission (PFC).
“Obviously, allocations to local governments should be made through the PFC. Once the local councils are formed and a new local government system is made functional, then allocations would have to be made through the PFC. It is a principle of fiscal federalism that resources should be allocated based on a formula,” he said.