KP Assembly terms interim govt’s projects unconstitutional

Peshawar    -   Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly declared on Tuesday that the approval of expenditures, developmental projects, and agreements undertaken by the caretaker government were illegal and unconstitutional.

Members of both the treasury and opposition benches in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly expressed reservations regarding the projects of interim set-up.

During the general debates on the annual budget for 2023-24, lawmakers raised concerns about developmental and non-developmental funds being utilised by caretaker chief ministers, provincial ministers, advisors, and special assistants outside their constitutional jurisdiction.

They questioned the legitimacy and constitutional standing of the interim government, which extended beyond the stipulated 90 days

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, which assumed power after the February 8 polls in KP, presented the annual budget for the current financial year with a total volume of Rs1456 billion.

Members from both the opposition and treasury benches criticised the budget figures, highlighting that the caretaker administrations had spent public funds for approximately eight months, leaving the remaining four months’ expenses and revenue to be managed by the elected government.

Sobia Shahid of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) expressed discontent by tearing budget documents, urging the PTI, with its absolute majority in the assembly, to make history by rejecting the budget for the current fiscal year.

Ahmad Karim Kundi, a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA and the younger brother of the incumbent governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, emphasised that the provincial government lacked the authority to approve the budget.

Kundi highlighted the PPP’s role in announcing the 7th NFC (National Finance Commission) Award during its previous government, which significantly increased provincial shares.

He noted that the Constitution vested this right in the provincial assembly and parliament, urging the ruling party to reject the bureaucracy-prepared budget.

Other lawmakers from the PML-N, Mohammad Rishad and Sardar Shah Jehan Khan, criticised both previous elected and interim governments for the ongoing crises in the province over the past decade.

Provincial Minister for Higher Education Meena Khan Afridi, along with several other members, noted that under the law, the treasury bench was obligated to pass the budgetary figures presented in the provincial assembly.

However, they acknowledged the lack of constitutional authority for the interim governments to extend their tenure beyond 90 days. They called for an investigation into projects, funds, and agreements undertaken during the last interim government by either the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or a House Special Committee.

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