Three CMs walk out of economic forum meeting

Centre, provinces at odds over development budget for next fiscal year


ISLAMABAD: Differences between the federal government and provinces over development budget emerged at a meeting of the National Economic Council on Tuesday prompting a walkout by the chief ministers of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Flanked by Pervez Khattak and Abdul Quddus Bizenjo at a joint press conference here, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah said the meetings of National Economic Council (NEC) and Council of Common Interests (CCI) were held today, and the members debated Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) at the NEC meeting.

Shah said that they recorded reservations over new development schemes at the meeting, adding that the incumbent government would complete its term in May and it could not design the PSDP for the next fiscal year.

"Today, five of us walked out of the NEC meeting," he said, alleging that the federal government had been taking unconstitutional measures.

"We demanded for taking all the four provinces into consideration while allocating funds."

The Sindh CM alleged that the prime minister wanted to "forcefully" get an approval for the summary. "We were told at the meeting that 'your approval is not required.'"

"To that, we replied that there was no reason for us to sit in the meeting when our approval is not needed," he said.

Shah said the quorum of NEC meeting broke after their walkout and if the PSDP for the next fiscal year was approved after they left the meeting, then it would be "illegal."

CM KP Pervez Khattak said that they kept stressing for more than hour that justice was not being done.

"They have been including projects of their choice in the development budget; we have faced similar deceits previously as well," Khattak said.

Balochistan CM Abdul Quddus Bizenjo questioned why they were called if they had no importance in the development programme.

"We demanded that a budget be presented only for the remaining two, three months, and let the next government make the remaining budget," Bizenjo said.

Murad Ali Shah further said if the prime minister again called a meeting of the NEC, then they would fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

The Sindh CM, however, said that they would oppose any new projects in the meeting and demand allocation of funds for ongoing projects on equal basis.