The PML-N manifesto committee was not given the mandate to deal with the 18th Amendment, says Ishaq Dar
- The Manifesto Panel has no mandate to deal with the 18th Amendment: Dar.
- Covers reports on PML-N’s plan related to 18th Amendment.
- Says NFC should be revised every five years.
ISLAMABAD: Leader of the House of Representatives in Senate Senator Ishaq Dar on Tuesday called for the need to work on distribution of resources to provinces under the National Finance Commission (NFC).
In his speech to the Upper House, Dar said that as per the constitution, the NFC should be revised every five years.
The senator, who is a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and a former finance minister, said a report on his party’s plans related to the 18th Amendment was circulating.
“The story said that the PML-N manifesto committee was told to revisit the 18th Amendment. No such mandate was given to the manifesto committee. There is no issue related to the 18th Amendment,” Senator Dar said.
He added that the chairman of his party’s manifesto committee had also stated that the manifesto had not been prepared yet.
“A constitutional amendment is no ordinary matter. There is nothing related to the 18th Amendment in the manifesto committee,” the PML-N lawmaker said. He added that his party was involved in drafting the 18th Amendment.
“Through the NFC, the share of the federation was transferred to the provinces and the share of the provinces to the federation,” Senator Dar said, adding that all the subjects earmarked for decentralization in the concurrent list went to the provinces.
“What is being done about the issues delegated to the provinces? “In the federation, we still keep money for health even though the provinces should be responsible for it,” Senator Dar said.
What is PML-N’s plan for the 18th Amendment?
Senator Ishaq Dar is the third senior PML-N leader to speak on the 18th Amendment after a news report claimed the party is considering changes to the constitutional amendment if it comes back to power.
A day earlier, Senator Irfan Siddiqui, chairman of the PML-N’s manifesto committee, and the party’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb had rejected the claims in the report.
The news report published in an English daily claimed that the PML-N’s manifesto committee had received several suggestions, including repealing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution to change the distribution mechanism of finances between provinces.
The PML-N had formed its manifesto committee on November 7 with over 33 members under the chairmanship of Senator Siddiqui.
The committee was formed days after Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan as the party prepared its political activities ahead of the February 8 elections.
“There is a very strong feeling among the leadership of the party, rather a conviction, that the current arrangements for the distribution of financial resources between the provinces are not in order [under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution] has led to untenable financial problems,” a PML-N source had told the publication on condition of anonymity.
“So far, it is believed that the party would not advocate a complete abandonment of the 18th Amendment, but would address its main features and redesign the distribution mechanism of financial resources between provinces. They would hopefully see it as part of the PML-N manifesto,” the source had explained.
Two party leaders who spoke to the publication anonymously also confirmed the development.
“In the name of provincial autonomy, we have seen that provinces are absolved after receiving their share under the NFC award, while the payment of interest and principal installments of loans, the allocation of funds under the defense budget, affairs of deficit-hit national Institutions, “Settlement of current account deficit and many other financial matters are the sole responsibility of the Centre,” another PML-N leader had said.
The amendment in question was discussed at length and there were calls for changes to be made to it. It was passed during the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government in 2010 and the party has always vowed to resist any attempts to change it.
The amendment gave provinces powers over issues such as health, women’s development, social welfare and local government.
The amendment also stated that the provinces would receive 57.5% of the share of federal funds, while the rest of the amount would be used by the Center for debt service, development programs, defense and other areas.