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Khattak upset at centre’s apathy towards core issues

Khattak upset at centre’s apathy towards core issues

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is running out of patience with the federal government over disinterest in resolving core issues of the province related to the centre.

He called a meeting of the parliamentary parties’ leaders in the assembly secretariat on Thursday to vent his frustration and sought help from opposition in this regard.

Speaker of the provincial assembly Asad Qaisar and few ministers were also present in the meeting.

The chief minister briefed participants on wide-ranging issues of the province including Pakistan-China Economic Corridor project, which has triggered a tug of war between the centre and three small federating units.

“The federal government hasn’t invited me for a single meeting to discuss investment package offered by China,” he said.

Khattak said like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, other small provinces were not only ignored in important issues, but they were also kept backward intentionally.

“Time has come to take these issues seriously and secure economic rights of the province,” he told the opposition.

Lamenting the lukewarm response of the centre, the chief minister said he had been discussing 21 points related with economic rights of the province with the federal government for the last one and a half year, but the progress was zero.

He said his government had serious reservations over the Chinese investment package, delay in payment of net hydel profit, unscheduled load shedding, gas royalty and slow pace of work on schemes being executed under the federal government-funded Public Sector Development Programme.

“The federal government has allocated Rs88 billion for different projects in the province under the PSDP last year and only Rs25 billion was released. The remaining amount had remained unspent and subsequently lapsed,” he said.

Khattak said on the contrary, the provincial government was chided for not utilising annual development programme.

“Simply saying the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is demanding its legitimate rights including disbursement of billions of hydel profit dues, gas royalty and uncapping of NHP in accordance with the Qazi formula,” he said.

The chief minister said the federal government had made firm commitment to increase capped amount from Rs6 billion to Rs17 billion with 25 per cent raise every year.

He said the money amount allocated for schemes in the provincial ADP did not lapse and proposed schemes could be revised next year.

Khattak complained about frequent power outages in the province and warned that it could create serious law and order problems for his government in the ongoing summer.

He said the centre had worked out formula for power distribution according to which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would receive 1300mw electricity.

The chief minister said currently, the province’ was provided only 850mw electricity and consumers were subjected to 16 to 18 hours loadshedding daily, while the province’s own requirement was 2400mw electricity and it generated 3500mw.

He asked Wapda to dedicate eight new grid stations and overhaul transmission lines to ensure smooth supply of electricity to the province.

Khattak said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had ordered Wapda to restrict loadshedding to six hours daily in urban areas and eight hours in rural areas, but the latter didn’t follow the orders.

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was exploring surplus gas and his government had requested to the federal government to provide 100 million cubic feet gas from that share to the province for generation of electricity, but that request had not been entertained.

The chief minister said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had planned to generate cheap electricity from natural gas that would be provided to industrial units.

“That file has also stuck up in Islamabad,” he told parliamentary leaders.

Khattak said illegal gas connections in Karak District was causing Rs4 billion losses to the national exchequer annually, but the centre was not taking notice.

He alleged that Wapda staff was involved in power theft which caused huge losses to the government, but the federal government was blaming the provincial government for it.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2015

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