PESHAWAR: The issue of alleged irregularities in the defunct Ehtesab Commission was raised in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday as the opposition demanded details about the appointments, expenditure and recovery the accountability body had made.
To a question by Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) seeking the details of recruitment, expenditure incurred on the commission and the cases it initiated against politicians and bureaucrats and recovery made by the accountability body, the House was told that a letter had been sent to the commission but it excused to provide the details.
Nighat Orakzai questioned that despite the fact the Commission was dissolved through the Ehtesab Commission (Repeal) Act 2018, the acting director-general was still working on the post.
Five commissioners were appointed under the Ehtesab Commission Act 2014 and they held meetings and formulated policies and questioned if those policies were implemented during the commission’s tenure.
The opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani also supported her point and said the House should be informed on how much expenditure was incurred on the provincial accountability body, how much recovery it made and how many innocent people were charged who were later cleared by the court of law.
The opposition demanded referring the matter to the standing committee concerned.
However, Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan said the commission had been abolished and its assets and cases handed over to the Establishment Department. He suggested that instead of referring it to the standing committee, the question be deferred till Tuesday for a detailed discussion.
Babar Salim Swati, the member of the panel of chairpersons, who presided over the session, deferred the question till Tuesday. Earlier on a point of order, Nighat Orakzai raised the issue of closure of marble units in Mardan and other parts of the province due to the imposition of sales tax, which rendered thousands of labourers jobless.
In his reply, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Industries Karim Khan said that 17 percent general sales tax had been imposed throughout the country and not in KP alone.
However, he said talks were going on between the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and industrialists and the House would be informed about the outcome in due course.
The performance of the Health Department also came under discussion as the members through questions had sought answers about lack of health facilities in their respective areas.
Interestingly, out of the total 19 questions on the agenda, 12 were about the Health Department but the minister concerned was not present to respond to the queries
Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan tried to satisfy the members but the opposition raised objections, saying how can one minister be able to answer questions about dozens of departments and ministries.
Sultan Muhammad argued that under Article 130, running of the affairs was a collective responsibility of the cabinet, that’s why he can reply to any question.
To a question by Humera Khatoon of the JUI-F about deaths caused by dengue fever and steps taken for its control during the last five years, the minister said that the Health Department had started Integrated Vector Control Programme at Rs442.177 million cost out of which Rs359.817 million had been released so far.
Medicines for spray against mosquitos are being provided to different districts on a need basis, he added.
The minister said the highest number of deaths, 70 due to dengue disease, was reported in 2017 but now the situation was under control.
However, Inayatullah Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) argued it was not justified that one minister answered all kinds of questions taking the plea of collective responsibility. “Will the entire cabinet take responsibility of a minister’s wrong signature or act?” he asked.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotic Substance Bill, 2019, KP Employees of Transport and Mass Transit Department (Regularization of Services) Bill, 2019, and KP Excise Duty on Minerals (Labour Welfare) Bill, 2019, were also tabled in the House before the session was adjourned till Monday, 10 am.