The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Finance Sirajul Haq has demanded of the federal government to take pity on the pathetic condition of the downtrodden and poverty stricken people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and give them their constitutional rights in which payment of net hydal profit and the frozen funds was on priority list.
He was addressing a press conference at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House, Islamabad on Wednesday. Secretary Finance Sahibazad Saeed Ahmad and Secretary Information Azmat Hanif Orakzai were also present on the occasion. The senior minister said though the provincial government had presented a tax free budget but paucity of resources was the main issue in which the net hydal profit was the issue of life and death for the people of this province. He said due to poor industrial activities and law and order situation the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not able to bear additional taxes and they were looking towards the net hydal profit.
The senior minister disclosed that from the very beginning the people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were complaining of non provision of their due rights in the shape of financial resources and in this connection step motherly treatment was being meted out to them. He said the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had assured of giving them their due rights and expressed the hope that when the province was given its due share in the net hydal profit along with the arrears then the public confidence would be restored and new avenues of prosperity would be opened in the KP.
The senior minister expressed with concern that in spite of the decision of the reconciliatory jirga and guarantee of the federal government, the KP was not given its due share in the net hydal profit. He said the WAPDA had also refused to pay Rs. 6 billion annual frozen amount which had given serious setback to provincial economy. He said the fact was that WAPDA had increased power tariff by hundreds times as compared to the past but the province was not being paid its due share of Rs. 6 billion annually. He said in 1991 the frozen amount would be more than half of the provincial budget but nowadays due to heavy inflation the same amount had remained only 2 percent of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget which was very meager as compared to the existing capacity of the KP budget.
Highlighting salient features of the KP budget Sirajul Haq said the provincial budget had been divided into three components including welfare, developmental and administrative for which Rs. 162 billion, Rs. 118 billion and Rs. 63 billion respectively had been allocated. He said according to the prevailing conditions of the province emergency had been imposed in the education, health and energy sectors for which Rs. 28 billion, Rs. 23 billion and Rs. 17 billion respectively had been allocated in the budget. He said for improving the same sectors certain solid measures had also been taken in all the above mentioned three sectors.
The senior minister disclosed that they austerity measures had initiated in all the government offices, including the provincial cabinet and 50 percent reduction in the non-developmental expenditures had been made in the KP. He said latest technology tools were being introduced to get the people rid of Thana and Patwar cultures. He said Rs. 1 billion had been allocated for arranging local bodies elections in the province as early as possible. He said after transferring power to the local bodies all the funds would be utilized on local level and the members of the parliament would have no interference in the way of utilization of that funds. He said the parliamentarians would be limited only to legislation.
The minister said they had appealed to the federal government to initiate small hydal power projects in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to overcome the existing heavy power crises in the country as there existed bright prospects of construction of small hydal power projects due to availability of a big amount of water in the rivers. He said they had identified 20 such sites to the federal government where small hydel power projects were feasible. He said by this way they could be able to generate cheap electricity with nominal cost.
The senior minister reminded that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was generating double energy as compared to its total consumption. He said the total power consumption in the province was about 8000 million kilowatts while its generating capacity was 18000 million kilowatts. He said the average price of their energy was only Rs.1.30 and from Tarbela dam they were producing electricity at the rate of Ps. 20 per unit. He regretted that they were paying Rs. 12 to Rs. 15 per unit on their own power and when the same was not available in the KP then they had to pay exorbitant rates for electricity.
The senior minister also disclosed that the bill for easy excess to information had been presented to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and stated that they wanted to enable the general masses to have easy approach to information around the world and in this connection a clear cut policy would soon be devised.