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CM fails to explain Rs2.4tr Chinese investment

Bureau Report 2017-06-14
PESHAWAR: As the debate on the next fiscal budget continued in the Khyber Pal(htunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak failed to give details of over Rs2.4 trillion Chinese investment shown in the budget documents.

`Frankly speaking, I am confused about how that amount has been reflected in the budget without mentioning the shared amount,` grinned Pervez Khattak while responding to a point raised by Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak about the proposed Chinese investment in different sectors of the province.

The budget documents for financial year 2017-18 mentioned 84 projects in 14 sectors to the tune of Rs2.452 trillion for whichmemorandums of understanding were signed at the China-KP Economic Cooperation Road Show held in April this year.

They however stated that the government had made a token allocation of only Rs1 million for these projects. Surprisingly, there is no mention of the investors` share in their cost.

The chief minister told the house that the government would find investors for those initiatives.

He clarified that Rs2.4 trillion reflected in the budget was foreign investment and not loan.

Mr Khattak said initially, the federal government had kept the province in dark about the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor.

He said the joint struggle by the treasury and opposition in the province forced the federal government to include the western route in the CPEC, while the Gilgit-Chitral route was also made part of the multi-billion dollars project afterwards. The lawmakers wrapped up the general discussion on the budget in the day.

After finance minister Muzafar Said`s closing speech on budget, the house approved four demands for grants valuing Rs6.02 billionfor the expenditure of the provincial assembly, and administration, finance, and planning and development departments.

Speaking on his cut motion, ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak pointed out that the procedure was that the budgetary estimates for foreign-funded projects described shares of donors and the province.

He said the government had reflected Rs2.4 trillion Chinese investment in the budget.

`For this purpose, the government made token allocation of Rs1 million but did not reflect the share oftheinvestor(China)inthe budget documents,` he said.

He said KP had lost its case in the CPEC and held the government responsible for it.

The ANP leader said the `through-forward liabilities` of the province had crossed the Rs3 trillion figure showing the inefficiency of the government. He said the `through-forward liabilities` totaled Rs125 billion only when the ANP-PPP coalition government completed its tenure in 2013.

Mr Babak said the government had planned solarisation of 4,000 mosques at the cost of Rs2 billionbut ironically allocated just Rs100,000 for it.

Fakhar Azam of the PPP complained that the share of the district governments in the budget had been reduced from Rs30 billion to Rs 22 billion in a violation of the Local Government Act.

He said the government was bound by that law to allocate 30 per cent of the provincial ADP.

Abdul Sattar Khan of the PML-N from Kohistan district said his area had been placed in Zone H for the provincial competitive examination in an act of injustice towards the local residents.

He said four districts, including Kohistan, Shangla, Battagram and Torghar, had demanded the creation of separate zone for the lessdeveloped district.

The lawmaker added that for the purpose, the provincial assembly had already unanimously passed a resolution for the creation of new zone and therefore, that resolution should be implemented in letter and spirit.

The treasury denied irregularities or violation of merit in the allotment of official residences and claimed those houses were allotted `strictly on merit`