Inequity marks distribution of uplift funds among MPAs

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government allocated Rs 4.3 billion to Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi and Swat district out of Rs8.5 billion development funds doled out to the lawmakers from across the province during the last fiscal year, 2014-15, show documents obtained by the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA).

Five lawmakers, including Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, received Rs1.172 billion for development of their respective areas.

The documents obtained by the CGPA under the KP Right to Information Act 2013 and released to the media on Wednesday show inequitable distribution of Rs8.5 billion development funds to lawmakers as special package, district development initiative, devolved ADP and priority projects.

Five districts, including CM’s Nowshera, got most of Rs8.5 billion given out in last fiscal

Ironically, 22 women members of the 124-strong house received a paltry sum of Rs55 million in all.

Primary and secondary education minister Mohammad Atif, of Mardan, got the highest amount of funds i.e. Rs343 million.

Next in the list was Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who belongs to Nowshera, with Rs251 million, parliamentary secretary for planning and development department Khaliqur Rehman, of Nowshera, Rs198 million, and public health engineering minister Shah Farman, of Peshawar, and revenue minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, of DI Khan, Rs190 million each.

The data also showed disparity in the allocation of funds to districts across the province as Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi and Swat districts have received a lion’s share i.e. Rs4.38 billion, which is nearly half of the total funds.

Ironically, some backward districts received paltry amount of money as special package, district development initiative, devolved ADP and priority projects.

The documents show Torghar district received Rs32 million, Chitral Rs88 million, Kohistan Rs103 million, Shangla, Rs113 million, Lakki Marwat Rs84 million, Batagram Rs63 million and Hangu Rs112 million. Interestingly, majority of the ministers and other influential members of the ruling coalition, has received more funds compared to the MPAs of some backward districts of the province.

Provincial Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar received Rs151 million, senior minister for health Shahram Khan Tarakai Rs140 million, Yaseen Khan Khalil Rs140 million and Sardar Mohammad Idrees Rs140 million.

JI minister for auqaf and religious affairs Haji Habibur Rehman Rs113 million, Mehmood Jan Rs135 million and KP senior minister for local government and rural development Inayatullah Khan Rs97 million.

Among women lawmakers, Qaumi Watan Party’s Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli received the highest amount of funds i.e. Rs20 million.

She was followed by PPP’s Nighat Orakzai with Rs15 million, QWP’s Miraj Humayun Khan Rs10 million and special assistant to the chief minister for social welfare Dr Mehr Taj Roghni Rs10 million.

The remaining 18 women MPAs, both from the treasury and opposition benches, didn’t get even a single penny.

Among minority lawmakers, PTI’s special assistant for minorities Sardar Soran Singh received Rs50 million and JUIF’s Askar Pervez and PML-N’s Fredrick Azeem Rs10 million each.

CGPA programme manager Malik Masood said he had strong reservations about distribution of development funds to lawmakers and that it also went against the PTI election manifesto.

He said better development funds should be given out to local government entities so that they could spent them according to their needs and development priorities.

Masood said lawmakers should focus on legislation as well as executive oversight instead of supervising utilization of development funds.

When contacted, special assistant to the chief minister on information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani said normally, development funds were not given to lawmakers and instead, they’re issued to the districts considering population density, area and other factors.

He said districts had different development needs and that development projects were suggested by the relevant departments.

Ghani said at times, districts themselves failed to prioritize objectives and in that case, the government could do nothing.