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Three chief ministers walkout of NEC meeting over budget differences

ISLAMABAD: The chief ministers of three provinces walked out of a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi after developing differences over the next annual budget and development programmes.

Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak, and Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo addressed a joint press conference after walking out from the meeting of the NEC and the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Addressing the press conference, CM Sindh said that incumbent government cannot form the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) debated in the NEC meeting for the next fiscal year as it would cease to exist by end May.

He called on the government not to form the PSDP for the next year, saying that the interests of smaller provinces are being neglected, and their recommendations have been overlooked. “We demanded for taking all the four provinces into consideration while allocating funds,” he said.

He complained over the attitude of the prime minister who said that their opinion was not sought in this regard. He 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,” he said adding that they replied that there was no reason for them to stay in the meeting.

He said the actions of the federal government were unconstitutional, and therefore the PSDP was not approved after their walkout. He said the Sindh government will also present a partial and not an annual budget.

CM KP Pervez Khattak said they will not accept the budget of the federal government under any circumstances, as their suggestions were rejected, and development projects of the federal government’s choice were included in the budget.

He said the three chief ministers have one-point agenda that the prime minister cannot provide justice to their provinces, and that they should not be called to the CCI meeting if their rights are not granted.

CM Balochistan said that the government should pass a budget to an interim period of a few months rather than the entire fiscal year, and the rest will be presented by the next government.

A crucial meeting of the CCI was convened to finalise the annual development budget for the next financial year and determine the value of the next budget expected to be around Rs2700 billion for the fiscal year 2018-2019.

A standing committee has recommended passing the budget for the next four months. Advisor to the prime minister on finance Mitfah Ismail had suggested passing the budget on April 27 as the current government will complete its tenure on May 31.

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