We need to work on distribution of resources to provinces under NFC: Ishaq Dar

Ishaq Dar says PML-N manifesto committee not given authority to look into 18th amendment

In this undated photo, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Ishaq Dar, is addressing a press conference when he was the Finance Minister.  — online/file
In this undated photo, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Ishaq Dar, is addressing a press conference when he was the Finance Minister. — online/file
  • Declaratory body has no authority to look into 18th amendment: Dar.
  • Addressed reports on PML-N’s plans related to the 18th amendment.
  • It is said that NFC should be revised after every five years.

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the House in the Senate, Senator Ishaq Dar, on Tuesday called for the need to work on distribution of resources to the provinces under the National Finance Commission (NFC).

Speaking in the Upper House, Dar said that, as per the Constitution, the NFC should be revised every five years.

The senator, who is a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and a former finance minister, said a report was being circulated about his party’s plans related to the 18th Amendment.

“In the story, it was said that the PML-N manifesto committee was asked to reconsider the 18th amendment. No such authority has been given to the manifesto committee. There is no issue with the 18th Amendment,” said Senator Darr.

He said that the Chairman of his party’s manifesto committee has also said that the manifesto has not been prepared yet.

“Amending the Constitution is not a normal thing. There is nothing related to the 18th Amendment in the manifesto committee,” the PML-N MLA said. He said that his party was involved in the creation of the 18th Amendment.

“Through NFC, the part of the federation was transferred to the provinces and the part of the provinces to the federation,” said Senator Dar, adding that all the subjects which were marked for transfer under the concurrent list went to the provinces.

“What is being done on the subjects assigned to the provinces? In the federation we still keep money for health when it should be done by the provinces,” said Senator Dar.

What is PML-N’s plan for 18th amendment?

Senator Ishaq Dar is the third senior PML-N leader to talk about the 18th amendment, after a news report claimed that the party is looking at making changes to the constitutional amendment if it comes back to power.

A day earlier, PML-N’s manifesto committee chief Senator Irfan Siddiqui and party’s information secretary Maryam Aurangzeb both rejected the claims made in the report.

A news report published in an English daily claimed that the PML-N’s manifesto committee had received several suggestions to change the distribution mechanism of finances among the provinces, including overturning the 18th amendment.

The PML-N had formed its manifesto committee of over 33 members on November 7, with Senator Siddiqui as its chairman.

The committee was formed days after Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan as the party intensified its political activities ahead of the February 8 elections.

“There is a very strong feeling, or rather conviction, among the top leadership of the Party that the present system of distribution of financial resources among the provinces [under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution] This has created unsustainable financial problems,” a PML-N source told the publication on condition of anonymity.

“As of now, it is believed that the party will not go on to completely overturn the 18th Amendment, but it will address its key features and reshape the distribution mechanism of financial resources among the provinces. Hopefully you will see it as part of the PML-N manifesto,” the source had explained.

Two party leaders, who spoke to the publication anonymously, also confirmed the development.

“In the name of provincial autonomy, we have seen provinces being acquitted after receiving their share under the NFC award, while payment of interest and principal installments of the loan, provision of funds under the defense budget, are affected by the deficit. Affairs of national institutions, payment of current account deficit and many other financial matters become the sole responsibility of the Centre,” another PML-N leader had said.

The amendment under consideration has been widely discussed and there have been calls for changes to be made. It was passed in 2010 during the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government and the party has always vowed to oppose any steps taken to change it.

The amendment transferred powers to the provinces on issues such as health, women’s development, social welfare and local government.

The amendment also defined that the provinces would receive 57.5% of the federal resources while the remaining amount would be used by the Center for debt service, development programmes, defense and other areas.

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