ISLAMABAD: In a significant development towards empowerment of the House of Federation, the apex watchdog that oversees the audit of revenue and expenditure is set to have representation of senators to make it a true parliamentary body on the pattern of India.
Those who will represent the Senate in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) include Chaudhry Tanveer of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Azam Khan Swati of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the PML-Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) and Hidayatullah from Fata.
An announcement to this effect was made during the Senate proceedings on Friday by Secretary Senate Amjad Parvez who said the six members one each from the four provinces, federal capital and Fata had been picked up through balloting. He said the names had been forwarded to the speaker of the National Assembly who would soon issue a notification.
The numerical strength of the powerful panel after inclusion of six senators will rise to 30. The body earlier comprised 23 members of the National Assembly, besides Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as its ex officio member. However, Mr Dar has never attended a meeting of the PAC.
Minister says 9th NFC Award to be announced in next three to six months
The Indian Public Accounts Committee comprises 15 members of the Lok Sabha and seven members of the Rajya Sabha.
It had been a longstanding demand of members of the Senate that they be included in the PAC and at a time it had been decided to constitute a separate public accounts committee of the upper house if the idea did not work.
Behind-the-scenes efforts made by Mr Dar, however, averted the move and a decision was taken to include senators in the PAC. After an announcement of the breakthrough was made by Mr Dar in the Senate last year, a motion was adopted by the house empowering Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani to nominate six senators as PAC members.
Later winding up a discussion on the 2nd biannual monitoring report on implementation of National Finance Commission (NFC) Award (January-June 2016), Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rehman said that consultation with the provinces to evolve consensus on the NFC Award was going on and it would be announced most probably within the next three to six months.
He said the revenues from the divisible pool generated through taxation were distributed among the provinces in accordance with the formula agreed in the seventh NFC award.
“The funds from the federal divisible pool are being transferred to the provinces twice in a month according to their shares…if consensus is created, backwardness will also be included in benchmarks for distribution of resources, as this is what majority of the senators stressed here,” he added.
Earlier, speaking on the motion, the senators blasted the government for delay in announcement of the long overdue NFC award. They were of the view that besides population, the government should also keep the backwardness of the province concerned in view during the process involving distribution of resources.
“About 70 per cent of wealth such as gas, oil, etc, is generated from smaller provinces, but its distribution rests with the Centre which should be reviewed while finalising the NFC award or else the sense of deprivation will further increase,” said Senator Usman Khan Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
Azam Khan Swati of the PTI said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered a lot in the ongoing war against terrorism and, therefore, it should be given more funds, especially in the NFC award.
Senator Saleem Mandviwalla of the PPP criticised the government for its reluctance to convene an NFC meeting and termed it infringement upon the rights of the provinces.
“The NFC as a structure has fallen apart. Some days back a meeting on the NFC was convened, but instead of the NFC, the CPEC issue was discussed. This is seriousness of the government about the NFC,” he regretted.
Earlier, during the question hour while answering a question about steps being taken by the government for the protection of rights of Pakistani citizens working in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, particularly after sufferings of Pakistanis in the recent past who were working legally in Saudi Arabia, Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch said there were more than 2.6 million Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia. The total number of Pakistani workers affected in the recent incidents in Saudi Arabia was not more than 8,000. “The number of affected workers as compared to the total number of our nationals is negligible,” he added. He, however, said Pakistani missions in the kingdom took various steps to safeguard interests of workers.
Courtesy : Dawn News