Distribution of the National Finance Commission Award
In a Bill tabled in the National Assembly, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) sought the distribution of the National Finance Commission award between districts on the basis of their respective populations.
The MQM ostensibly seeks a greater share of resources for urban Sindh, which has a markedly higher population density than other areas of the province but has struggled to cope with administrative issues at the local level. At the moment, provincial governments have the authority to distribute the award amongst projects, rather than allocating a certain amount to each district.
The Pakistan Peoples Party opposed the Bill — that would require an amendment to Article 160 of the Constitution — on grounds that distribution of the National Finance Commission award is a provincial matter. On the other hand, the Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, who at first opposed the Bill, appeared convinced after a while. However, Qaumi Watan Party Chief maintained that the Bill was tantamount to an attempt at weakening the federal government.
The National Assembly Deputy Speaker, presiding over the session, forwarded the Bill to the relevant committee of the House.
Meanwhile, the provinces have threatened to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court if the Centre does not take steps for early finalisation of the National Finance Commission Award.
The 7th National Finance Commission award expired at the close of the financial year 2014-15 and has since been on an extension through the Presidential Ordinance.
After presiding over a meeting of the technical National Finance Commission members from the provinces, the Finance Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa informed that the provinces had decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to take immediate result-oriented steps for the next National Finance Commission award before formally going to the apex court. The provinces have agreed that if the federal government was ready to take result-oriented steps, the provinces would unanimously request the Prime Minister to play his role or they would approach the Supreme Court.
The participants urged the government to urgently convene a meeting of the Commission to finalise their recommendations for the next award.