Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Monday expressed fears of a ‘provincial default’, blaming the federal government of refusing to release critical grants and National Finance Commission (NFC) awards to support the provincial economy.
Raising his hands, he announced to demonstrate outside the National Assembly unless the demands of the provincial governments are met by the federal government.
He said this while addressing a joint presser on a single-item agenda on Monday.
The press conference was also addressed by Gilgit Baltistan CM Khalid Khursheed, Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Laghari, KP Finance Minister Taimoor Jhagra.
Mehmood Khan said KP has been facing financial challenges ever since the incumbent government took power in April.
The KP chief minister complained they wrote to the federal government on multiple occasions but the federal government has demonstrated a careless behavior to cope with challenges faced by the province.
He said the provincial government had been allocated Rs1.3 trillion development budget. But the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led federal government did not release the money.
“The federal government owes us as much as Rs189 billion until December, while Rs55 billion have been allocated for the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata),” Mehmood Khan said, adding, “The government has yet to pay us Rs17 billion for internally displaced people (IDPs).”
KP did not receive a single penny of flood aid, he further claimed.
While expressing his disappointment over the incumbent government, he invited the federal government for talks with the provincial government.
All dues must be paid immediately, he said, adding that it was binding on the federal government to accept his demands because they are also a part of this country.
The KP chief minister said if the government does not accept their demands, they will be forced to demonstrate outside the National Assembly.
“Whether we remain in power for three days or three months, we will definitely fight for the rights of the province,” he said in a nod to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s plans to dissolve provincial assemblies to protest against the federal government and force general elections.
Along with the KP chief minister, the government of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) also announced that they will now join the public in their territory in staging strikes against the federal government.
GB Chief Minister Khalid Khursheed said, “The Rs25 billion development budget allocated for the region was down from the Rs40 billion allocated last year.”
He continued that the federal government has so far released just Rs2.80 billion so far for the northern territory.
He lamented that this was grossly insufficient for their needs. He further said that the winter in GB is so cold that they cannot undertake any construction or development activity in the region for four months and hence they needed the funds early.
Further he said that due to lack of money, they have been unable to run extra power generators. As a result the provincial capital of Gilgit and second major city Skardu were facing load shedding of up to 21 hours a day.
On the wheat subsidy, he said that they usually get 1.6 million bags. But this year, they have received only 1- 1.1 million bags. As a result, there was a shortage of flour in the region.
He added that the regional administration had repeatedly written to the federal government, but have not even received any acknowledgement, let alone a response.
In the flood damages list provided to international donors, GB was excluded, he said, noting that it was disappointing given how they face floods every year but their issues are never addressed.
It was a similar tale for Punjab where Laghari said that while Sindh and Balochistan was listed in flood damage, they were ignored.