Budget Sessions Delayed

No matter how lacklustre or dysfunctional a provincial assembly is, for matters concerning the budget, the assembly session is almost always full and attentive. Only in highly rare or unprecedented circumstances have budget sessions in parliament been delayed. This is why the delay in the annual budget session in the Balochistan provincial assembly is concerning and needs to be addressed by stakeholders in the region.

What is even more confusing is that there are conflicting claims as to why the session was rescheduled indefinitely at the last moment. Some reports imply that the relevant officials could not adequately review the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation. However, sources said the budget session was postponed following reservations of some ruling party MPAs over the allocation of huge funds for the development schemes of senior minister Noor Muhammad Dummar.

Both reasons give cause to be wary. Thorough review and consideration of the PDSP allocation are important considering a good PDSP budget can go a long way in improving health, education, and infrastructure in the province. This is something the provincial governments coordinate with the central government on as well—it is not a matter of small importance that it was left to the last minute to review. If that is the reason, it reflects a misidentification of priorities by Balochistan MPAs.

The second reason is a bigger cause of alarm. Discontent among ruling party MPAs reflects that there are signs of political turmoil again in the province, which has had a poor history of retaining Chief Ministers and inculcating a proper political party culture. A no-confidence motion is a process that unfortunately the Balochistan Assembly has gone through so many times that it is almost becoming a yearly occurrence. Political uncertainty deters progress and leaves the assembly distracted by political struggles rather than important decisions concerning finance and expenditures. It is hoped that these waves smooth out and the sessions are rescheduled and held at the earliest.

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