The Provincial Chief Ministers assisted by their
Finance Ministers, attended a special meeting convened by President
General Pervez Musharraf to resolve the deadlock over the 6th NFC
Award, they finally reached a consensus to give full mandate to the
President in making a decision on the issue.
The meeting which held at the Presidential House
was also attended by the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his advisor
on Finance Dr. Salman Shah.
Expressing thanks to the participants for reposing
confidence on his judgment the President has announced that he will
make his decision within a couple of days and the judicious
distribution of resources among the confederating units in the coming
Prospects for a consensus on the 6th Award of the
National Finance Commission (NFC) had brightened when the President
General Pervez Musharraf declared that the share of the provinces in
the federal pool of revenues should be increased to 50 percent. The
ruling Pakistan Muslim League has also proposed that the population
should not be the sole criterion for determining the share of the
provinces in the divisible pool. Other factor such as poverty,
backwardness and special needs of smaller provinces, particularly
Balochistan should also be taken into consideration while fixing
provincial shares in the divisible pool. Acceptance of these major
demands of the small provinces it was expected, will lead to a
consensus awards, which was to be announced before the budget.
The 6th NFC Award is being delayed for one or the
other reasons for the last two years. Despite last minute intervention
of Prime Minister Jamali in June last, the National Finance Commission
failed to reach a consensus among the provinces compelling the
authorities to request the President for extending the application of
5th Award for another (2004-05) year. The strict stance of Sindh and
Punjab Chief Minister of revenue collection and population could not
bring any results. Later then, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz played
his cards in the shrewdest manner by announcing to increase the
provincial share from 37 to 47 percent against a demand of 50 percent.
As a result the provinces were made to look responsible for the
bickering over the formula of distribution of the divisible pool even
though the federal government had not met their demand of 50:50 ratio
in the distribution of proceeds between the center and the provinces
Earlier, the provinces other than Sindh had agreed
to an 80 percent weight-age to be given to population while the
remaining 20 percent to multiple factors minus revenue collection.
Sindh was, however, adamant that revenue collection
should be given some weight-age also. Sindh Finance Minister Sardar
Ahmad was quoted as saying after lengthy discussions that other
provinces have refused to include revenue generation in the
multi-factor formula. However, the situation took an ugly turn when
Sindh's nominee on the NFC, Abdul Karim Lodhi resigned as a mark of
protest. He alleged that the NFC was not allowed to operate in
accordance with the constitutional provisions for the last many years.
Monday's meeting at the Presidential House could be
termed as a serious attempt to resolve the issue prior to the budget
2005-06 due on June 6, as all the Chief Ministers have agreed on a
single point that the President decision for distribution of resources
from the divisible pool would be acceptable to all.
President Musharraf, while addressing the Chief
Ministers and others said that all the provinces stand to gain from
the recent economic turnaround. The allocations for development
projects have registered a quantum leap. President said the provinces
should avail this opportunity for an enhanced share, as the Federal
Government was keen to give them additional resources. President said
that judicious distribution of national resources amongst the
provinces was unavoidable, especially to redress the sufferings on
account of injustice in the past. For promoting an environment of
harmony for development at an accelerated pace was inevitable to pass
on the benefits across the country.
Prime Minister, in his remarks observed the
government was committed to equitable distribution and pass on the
benefits of economic gains to the common man. He said that substantial
increase in the allocations for Federal Public Sector Development
Program, this year were unprecedented. The Prime Minister observed
that the launch of development projects would generate employment
opportunities and thus contribute to poverty alleviation.
The provinces will see massive development activity
and the benefits will go down to the people at the grassroots level
through completion of development projects, he added.
Punjab Finance Minister Sardar Dareshak was
optimistic that NFC issue would be resolved soon. "The President
lent a sympathetic ear to the point of view of each province and
assured that they would get due share from NFC award," he added.
However, identical views were expressed by the NWFP
Finance Minister Sirajul Haq. He said that President who wisely
intervened into the matter would resolve the controversy.