Punjab, KP election funds issue: Federal cabinet refers summary to NA

Punjab, KP election funds issue: Federal cabinet refers summary to NA

Islamabad (Web Desk): The federal cabinet on Monday referred a summary for provision of funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to National Assembly (NA) for further consideration.

The elections funds’ summary was forwarded by the finance ministry which was prepared as per recommendation of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance for provision of required funds to the ECP.

A meeting of the committee under the chairmanship of Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh held in the federal capital to discuss the SC order regarding the disbursement of funds.

Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar, Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar, Acting Governor State Bank, Auditor General of Pakistan, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, Minister of State for Finance Ayesha Ghaus Pasha and officials of the Ministry of Finance participated in the meeting.

Speaking to newsmen at the parliament House in Islamabad, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar has said that Standing Committee at its meeting has directed to take matter of provision of funds for elections in Punjab to the National Assembly after approval from the federal cabinet.

Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghous Pasha said we respect the order of the Supreme Court (SC) which has also stated to move forward as per the law and constitution.

She explained that the process of the allocation required approval from the parliament.

The minister added that no bill or budget has any legal authenticity without the approval of the parliament,

“Hence, we leave the entire matter on the parliament now. The parliament is supreme for us because this is what is written in the Constitution,” Pasha said.

The state minister said that the SBP can only allocate the money but cannot release it until and unless a proper indication was given to them by the Finance Division.

She said the matter of election funds will be taken up in the federal cabinet meeting on Monday and later in the National Assembly. She said the parliament is ultimate authority to spend fund from the Federal Consolidated Fund.

On April 14, the SC had ordered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release funds worth Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and send an “appropriate communication” to this effect to the finance ministry by Monday (April 17).

On April 4, the court had directed the electoral body to hold elections in Punjab on May 14, and the federal government to provide funds amounting to Rs21 billion to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by April 10.

The court had directed the ECP to provide a report to the court on whether or not the government complied with the order on April 11.

The ECP, in a one-page report submitted last week, informed the top court about the government’s reluctance to issue the amount needed for elections.

The government, meanwhile, had referred the matter to Parliament to decide.

On Thursday, the parliament defied the SC order and refused to issue the elections funds.
Subsequently, the top court issued notices to the finance secretary, SBP governor, AGP Awan and the ECP, directing them to appear before the judges’ chamber on April 14 along with relevant reports.