Peshawar District Council passes budget amid protest


PESHAWAR: Amid strong protest and boycott by the opposition members, the ruling councillors of district council on Sunday unilaterally passed budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 with a total outlay of Rs10.669 billion.
Before the session, the opposition members locked the district council hall due to which the meeting was delayed by around half an hour. However, the district administration broke the locks open to enable the members of the treasury and journalists to enter the hall.
The opposition members, however, refused to attend the session and instead they staged protest outside the hall against the 27 percent discretionary funds allocated for the district nazim and naib nazim.
Chanting slogans against the provincial government and the district administration, they termed the district budget illegal and announced to move court against it. The opposition members were led by Razaullah Khan, Mohammad Zahir and othrs.
Meanwhile, the councillors from the treasury benches continued the session and passed the district budget unilaterally. The session was presided over by District Naib Nazim Syed Qasim Ali Shah in the presence of District Nazim Mohammad Asim Khan and 87 councillors of the ruling coalition.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf councillors termed the district budget as people-friendly.Khalid Waqas Chamkani of Jamaat-e-Islami opposed the allocation of the discretionary funds of the district nazim.
He stressed the need for transparent utilisation of development funds, saying that a proper system should be introduced to check corruption in uplift schemes. Khalid Waqas was also concerned about the alleged arrogant attitude of the ruling side.
He said it would have been better had the ruling members consulted the opposition members and ensured their participation in the most important meeting. The councilor said that the treasury benches should demonstrate patience and resolve issues through consensus.
District Nazim Mohammad Asim said that they tried their best to soothe the opposition members, but they remained inflexible. He said that peaceful protest was everyone’s right but locking the hall and tearing someone’s collar was not an appropriate and decent attitude.
He added that he would have decreased the discretionary funds through consultation, had the opposition members attended the session. However, according to the Local Government Act, 2013, he had the right to have 55 percent of the development budget as discretionary fund, he argued.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters, the protesting councillors termed the city district government’s budget as the budget of the nazim and naib nazim. The opposition members belonging to Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl said that 27 percent of the total development funds were put at the disposal of the nazim and naib nazim.
They said that the city district government had earmarked Rs988.53 million for development schemes out of which Rs189.14 million would be allocated for the discretionary funds of district nazim and Rs80 million for naib nazim.
The members said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had recently banned the use of discretionary funds by the chief minister, ministers and members of the provincial assembly.