Minister for Local Government, Elections and Rural Development of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inayatullah in May 2015 prior to local bodies’ elections in the province pledged while talking to journalists that his government would allocate 30% of the total provincial development funds for local bodies.
One of key points of the Pakistan Tehrek-i-Insaf (PTI) led KP government’s manifesto was to conduct local body elections in the province and they also claimed that it would be the model Local Government (LG) system for other provinces to devolve power to the grass root level.
The government has pledged time and again that they will earmark 30% of the total Provincial Annual Development Program (ADP) which will be allocated for the district Annual Development Program to be distributed among the three tiers of the LG system-District, tehsil/town, and village and neighborhood councils.
Local body elections was held on 31st May, 2015 and the provincial government has allocated 30% of the provincial ADP to local bodies. However, the allocation was restricted to papers only and the total amount was not released to the local bodies.
According to the budget documents of 2015-16, the KP government has allocated over Rs.33 billion for the district ADP for the three tiers of the LG system which will be released on a quarterly basis.
However, according to official documents obtained by Truth Tracker, the provincial government has so far only released over Rs.20 billion in three quarters of this year to the local bodies with a 25% cut on the district ADP.
The local bodies were assured by the provincial government that they will release the remaining funds in the last quarter but that is yet to happen, despite the fact that around a month has been left to end the ongoing financial year.
Speaking to Truth Tracker, KP’s district Mardan, Nazim Himayatullah Mayar belongs to Awami National Party (ANP) said that the KP government was not about the timely release of funds which halted many of the developmental projects.
He disclosed that the government has slashed district ADP by 25% and now after the cut, the government is bound to release over Rs. 25 billion but they have only released Rs20 billion of the total Rs. 25 billion. “About a month is left before the end of the ongoing financial year, and the government hasn’t released the remaining funds which is against the Budget Release Rule prepared by the KP government,” he said, adding that he didn’t think the government would release the remaining amount.
Like Mardan, most of the districts are facing financial crises owing to delays in the release of the budgets. Speaking to Truth Tracker, Lower Dir district Nazim, Muhammad Rasool Khan, of Jamat Islami, which is in coalition with the PTI in the KP government, said that the district council do not have funds to release salaries to the employees.
He lamented that many of the developmental projects have been left incomplete by the contractors as they haven’t been given money due to delaying tactics in release of the district ADP by the provincial government. “We have released tenders for the projects and contractors signed in for the execution of the projects but they [contractors] left the projects incomplete due to insufficient funding from the district council,” Rasool said. “If the government has no issues providing the funds then why have they not released the remaining funds of district ADP?” he asked.
When KP’s government Spokesperson, Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani was contacted by Truth Tracker, he said that the government has planned to release the funds of the last quarter over the next couple of weeks. “The government is left with around a month,” he said. “Actually, KP is looking towards the federal government to release the amount under the Finance Commission, which is also supposed to be released on a quarterly basis.”
“Whenever federal government releases funds for the last quarter of the district ADP, the KP will release it for the local bodies,” Ghani vowed, adding that there is no plan to slash or halt the release of the amount to the local bodies.
Mudasir Alam Taherkheli, an independent expert on LG system who works as a consultant with Centre of Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) said that it’s poor planning on the department’s part, for preparing the annual budget.
He said, “The KP government has issues with the federal government as the federation has yet to release funds for the last quarter to the province. “However, there is always a contingency plan,” he said, “while preparing the budget which includes what to do if there is any emergency or no provision of funds to the province from the federation.” “The Province could prepare the budget while keeping in view the financial capacity and should avoid allocating a budget that is not possible to release to not halt the developmental works of the local bodies,”
Taherkheli said, adding that if the government will not release the remaining funds, it would be a burden of the local bodies to run their financial businesses.
While keeping in view the comments of officials, stakeholders and independent experts, Truth Tracker observed that the PTI government in KP could not release funds to local government for last quarter. The promise of releasing 30% of total provincial ADP to district ADP stands broken since they have slashed the district ADP by 25%.