In April 2014, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had directed Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pervez Khattak to immediately put a stop to all discretionary funds.
Khan’sdirective circulated after a number of PTI provincial ministers started transferring discretionary funds to their personal accounts. Angered Khan directed Khattak to ensure that no ministers, bureaucrats and even the chief minister received discretionary funds.
Truth Tracker repeatedly tried to know about the volume of the discretionary fund but Chief Minister’s Office did not share details. Officials kept on saying that the concerned person is in Germany for an official visit.
Khan in his directive stated that every taxpayer’s rupee spent by the government should be audited for greater transparency and accountability in governance.
Khan said he hoped the PTI-led KP government would once again lead the way in that as it was doing in so many other fields of governance.
Behramand Jan, press secretary KP chief minister, said that in the previous fiscal year 2014-15, the KP government has transferred Rs. 35 billion to district governments so that they could make their own decisions at the local levels.
He said earlier, when the chief minister would visit certain districts, he would announce development projects wherever he wanted under his discretionary powers. However, now that discretionary powers have been curtailed—even abolished, he added.
“Those directives (of PTI chairman) have fully been implemented. The provincial government doesn’t have any space to allocate any funds,”he added.
The provincial government has decentralised everything and even the PTI members don’t interfere with the working of certain departments, Jan said.
“There is no discretionary fund at the moment because this was abolished soon after Khan’s directives,” he noted.
Sardar Hussain Babak, a lawmaker and former education minister from Awami National Party (ANP), said, “Chief Minister Khattak has already spent all the discretionary funds to development in his home constituency PK-13 Nowshera,” he remarked.
Arif Yousaf, a PTI MPA and advisor on law, said he has no details on the funds. PTI MPAs have no discretionary funds, he said, but he has no information if ministers have any discretionary funds.
Sayed Jaffar Shah, another ANP leader, said the province is experiencing the worst financial crisis because the budget was approved in June this year by the KP Assembly but the government has not released any fund for ongoing projects which are at standstill.
“The promise to abolish the discretionary fund has not been fulfilled. The PTI awards funds to its own MPAs unchecked,” he added. To support his claim, he said that there are still some constituencies where development projects are underway.
He recalled Peshawar High Court had ruled in 2015 that the KP Government should give the opposition 30 percent of the funds from the total funds but the provincial government did not follow the orders. Only three constituencies are the PTI targets for carrying out development work such as Nowshera, Hari Pur and Dir—the strongholds of the chief minister, speaker and Jamat-e-Islami, said Shah.
“I don’t have the exact idea but these funds are in billions, which are in three heads such as chief minister directives, district initiative and special projects,” Shah added.
Sahibzada Sanaullah, an MPA from Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), said that all funds, including discretionary funds, are being distributed among PTI lawmakers and its coalition parties while the opposition is not being given even Zakat.
“I don’t have all the figures at the moment but I can give you all the facts from the Annual Development Program (ADP). The discretionary funds are increased instead,” Sanaullah added.
He said that the PTI’s Government had released Rs. 5 billion to the constituency of Siraj-ul-Haq, the incumbent head of Jamat-e-Islami, as his party is a coalition partner of PTI.
However, he said that some funds from the provincial budget are being given to local bodies.
When approached for comments, Dr. Amjad Amin, professor of economics at University of Peshawar, said that he could not specifically talk on the subject regarding abolishment of the discretionary fund because he has no data.
He said there is a slight development in the functioning of institutions such as health and education as the government has increased allocations to these sectors otherwise on economic front the PTI could not make any change.
“However, the PTI during its three and a half years rule in the province has failed to work out a broad industrial policy to usher an era of economic development,” Amin added.
Truth Tracker tried its best to get the fact about discretionary funds of previous governments and the current one from the Chief Minister’s Office but the officials refused to provide facts.
Keeping in view the available facts and views of opposition and treasury lawmakers, Truth Tracker finds the PTI promise of abolishing discretionary funds has been compromised.