Islamabad, February 16, 2018 (PPI-OT): Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has said that interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan on the part of IMF and other financial institutions with regard to distribution of powers under 18th Constitutional Amendment and creation of an impression about the NFC as a useless exercise is highly worrisome. While referring to the IMF report, the Chairman Senate made it vociferously clear that Pakistan is an independent state and will not bow before the dictates of IMF or any other international financial institution. He said that centrist mindset is creating hurdles in the way of smooth implementation of 18th Constitutional Amendment and a frivolous interpretation was being given to delay announcement of the new NFC Award.
He termed the interpretation given by the bureaucracy about the NFC Award and said that as per bureaucracy’s interpretation the government is supposed to constitute NFC and not necessarily has to announce the Award after every five years. Mian Raza Rabbani termed this interpretation as ridiculous and against the Constitution. He lamented the delay in the announcement of NFC Award and said that it has been reported that Secretary Finance while taking Chief Secretaries of four provinces on-board in a meeting has decided to present the upcoming budget without NFC. He said that this act on the part of bureaucracy is tantamount to the violation of the relevant articles of the Constitution. “When Parliament is there then how can the bureaucracy decide on such matters” Raza Rabbani remarked.
He further said the government, in connivance with the World Bank has drafted a bill to control and to exercise influence over the matters related to distribution of resources which is against the spirit of Constitution and the 18th Amendment. He observed that a proper mechanism was laid down and Council of Common Interest was strengthened as a parallel institution to the federal cabinet to manage the affairs between the Centre and Provinces and to ensure equal distribution of resources as per the spirit of Article 172 of the Constitution.
He reiterated that strong provinces would guarantee a strong federation and there was a dire need to implement 18th Constitutional Amendment in letter and spirit to achieve the goal of a stronger, democratic and true federalist Pakistan. Mian Raza Rabbani termed the Seminar a step in the right direction and hoped that the experts would formulate solid recommendations through exchange of knowledge and ideas while keeping in view the political, democratic and constitutional background in mind and the outcomes of the Seminar would go a long way in achieving the desired objectives.
Secretary Senate Amjed Pervez Malik said that the concept of fiscal federalism is not new as almost all federal states have been practicing fiscal federalism in one form and the other. He said that Pakistan is federal country and distribution of resources has impact on income, development, backwardness and poverty. He said that the Senate is expected to play more effective role towards ensuring a conducive fiscal federalism. However, this may not be possible without giving the Upper House more powers and say in financial matters.
Amjed Pervez Malik further said that amendments to the rules has unable the Senate Standing Committees to scrutinized the budget of their concerned ministries biannually and representation of the Senate in the Public Accounts Committee and some of the achievements which help Senate to take a lead towards strengthening Fiscal Federalism. International Expert, Hans Altherr said that some of the important questions surrounding the issue of strengthening federalism, and the role of the Upper House here in Pakistan would be considered.
He said that this Seminar is the first of what we hope are many such interactions with the Senate, which have been organised in close collaboration with the Senate Secretariat of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan has a unique federal system and journey and we by no means have the answers or aim to provide those. He hoped that these experiences will add some insight and inspiration to the efforts of the Senate of Pakistan to strengthen the accountability and fiscal capacity to deliver services and ultimately strengthen its democracy.
The Forum of Federations, he said, seeks to strengthen democratic governance by promoting dialogue and understanding of the values, practices, principles, and possibilities of federalism and decentralization. In Pakistan, the Forum has been active since 2009 providing intellectual resources to those seeking to strengthen its federation, providing expertise in areas such as fiscal federalism, intergovernmental relations to a range of important stake holders at the highest level like the Senate of Pakistan striving to better the federation and better represent the interests for all in the Federation.
Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services considered the initiative as unique opportunities to share experiences and ideas which each other’s. He said that resource distribution has always been a contentious issue in our history. He said that out of seven NFC Awards only three were actually negotiated and announced by democratically elected governments. He said that political leadership has all the magic and wisdom to resolve various issues. Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Dr. Kaiser Bengali and experts of the area shared their views during the event.
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Senate of Pakistan
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H.No.7, Cat-II, G-8/2,