ISLAMABAD: The Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Friday approved payment of Rs83 billion net hydel profit (NHP) for Punjab amid disagreement on setting aside six per cent of divisible pool taxes for national security fund (NSF) and development of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the council also approved in principle a national forest policy, but sought further consultations to avoid encroachment to provincial domain.
The meeting was attended by all the four chief ministers and three federal ministers, including Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Pir Syed Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Abdul Qadir Baloch and Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf.
Informed sources said the chief ministers opposed giving up 3pc of divisible pool taxes for national security fund as proposed by the finance ministry, saying they had also raised forces for the security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other national projects and had to spare funds out of their kitties.
There were also some voices as to the relevance of taking up a matter that related to National Finance Commission which is scheduled to meet on Dec 19.
Therefore, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the “agenda item pertaining to establishment of NSF was discussed and it was decided to refer it to NFC for decision being the competent forum”.
An official said the Safron ministry has also sought allocation of another 3pc of federal divisible pool for the socio-economic development of Fata for 10 years and integration of these areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a period of five years as recommended by a high-powered committee led by Senator Sartaj Aziz, prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs.
The discussions on the summary were, however, deferred when it was reminded at the outset that the federal cabinet had yet to formally approve the report.
The CCI also approved national forest policy in principle and directed the minister of climate change to sit with the provincial governments to ensure no encroachment on provincial powers was made.
The policy will enable the federal government to provide technical and financial assistance to the provinces in line with their own provincial policy frameworks and to ensure compliance of international conventions.
The CCI also ratified payment of Rs83bn NHP to the government of Punjab. The first instalment of Rs38.12bn will be settled by issuance of irrevocable promissory note of one-year duration to the government of Punjab within this month.
The balance Rs44.59bn will be paid in three equal instalments of Rs14.85bn each after tariff determination by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. In addition, the Water and Power Development Authority would continue paying Rs9.5bn per year to Punjab for entire productive life of the project.
The decision would result in an increase of about 33 paise per unit in tariff for all consumers. The NHP for Punjab had been approved for 1,450-megawatt Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project on the analogy of similar payments to KP for power generation from Tarbela dam.
An agreement to this effect was finalised last month by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
courtesy : dawn news