In a surprise move, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has announced that its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will not present the budget for the next financial year because of the position the party has taken against the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) governments – in Islamabad and Punjab – that an outgoing government has no mandate to do so.
The decision was announced by PTI chairman Imran Khan at a media briefing after a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) yesterday.
“We have passed a resolution (at the meeting) that a government which has only 45 days in office has no mandate to present a budget for the whole year. We will oppose it. We have decided that (Chief Minister) Pervez Khattak will not present the budget in KP as we don’t have a mandate to do so,” Khan stated, without elaborating as to how the provincial matters would be run after the expiry of the present budget on June 30.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is also opposing the PML-N decision to present the federal budget for the fiscal year 2018-19, has expressed its surprise over the PTI’s announcement, saying that such a step would create a precarious situation in KP, with questions raised on what expenditures can be made by the caretaker government after July 1, when the new financial year would start.
When contacted, the PPP’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, Syed Naveed Qamar, said that his party is of the view that the PML-N government could only present the budget for four months and not for the whole year.
In reply to a question, he said that the PPP-led Sindh government should present the provincial budget, but only for four months, in line with the position they had taken at the centre.
Qamar also expressed his surprise over the PTI’s announcement, saying that it is strange that the PTI wanted to run the financial affairs of KP “illegally” after the end of the current financial year.
Opposition Leader in the Senate and fellow PPP leader Sherry Rehman said that while her party is opposed to the federal government’s move to present the budget for the whole year, the Sindh government would have no option but to announce the budget if the federal government did so.
“We protest the federal government bringing a budget just before elections. But if the federal government presents a budget, then Sindh will also do so. If we don’t, it will weaken the federation,” she said, adding: “We fight for Pakistan, not at its expense.”
PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said that the decision to not present the KP budget was taken after a thorough deliberation and reviewing all aspects.
Regarding the legal or constitutional obligation, he claimed that there is no such requirement for a provincial government to present the budget for a limited period.
Chaudhry said the interim government could authorise expenditures during June from an already approved budget for the current fiscal year.
He said that it is the month of July when the question of approved expenditures would arise.
Quoting Article 86 of the Constitution, Chaudhry said that the Constitution had envisaged such a possibility and had, therefore, made provision to this effect.
Article 86 of the Constitution reads: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions relating to financial matters, at any time when the National Assembly stands dissolved, the federal government may authorise expenditure from the Federal Consolidated Fund in respect of the estimated expenditure for a period not exceeding four months in any financial year, pending completion of the procedure prescribed in Article 82 for the voting of grants and the authentication of the schedule of authorized expenditure in accordance with the provisions of Article 83 in relation to the expenditure.”
Evidently, he said, the caretaker government could authorise expenditures for 120 days i.e. up to October 28 when the assembly stood dissolved.
Meanwhile, PTI chairman Imran Khan has declared that the party leadership has decided to take disciplinary action against the party legislators in the KP Assembly who had “sold” their votes during the Senate polls.
Khan said that they are consulting lawyers, and as soon as the party got a green signal from the lawyers, these lawmakers would be expelled.
The PTI says that it had conducted an inquiry and found that at least 15 of its Provincial Assemble members (MPAs) had voted for the candidates of other parties in the Senate elections.
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