Centre-Punjab devolution row likely to turn ugly | Pakistan Today

Centre-Punjab devolution row likely to turn ugly

The row between the federal and Punjab governments over not handing over lucrative subsidiaries of the devolved ministries is likely to take a serious turn, as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has rejected concerns raised by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in his letter sent to the PM a few days ago.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat told Pakistan Today that Gilani had not only rejected Shahbaz’s demand of transferring the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI), Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) and other departments of the devolved ministries of health, environment and food and agriculture and their assets to provincial government, but had also promised the PML-Q leadership that some existing division and ministries would be handed over the departments held by the federal government to accommodate the PML-Q’s portfolio-less ministers.
The source said in response to the Punjab’s CM’s letter in which he expressed concerns over the delay in transferring the departments of the devolved ministries to the provinces, the PM told Shahbaz through a letter that the devolution of ministries and divisions was done under the recommendations of the 18th Amendment Implementation Commission and the federal government was mindful of its constitutional obligations and needed no advice from the provinces.
The source said the PM also told the chief minister that WWF and EOBI would not be handed over to the provinces. He further said no province except Punjab was raising objections to the devolution process. The financial assets of WWF are estimated at Rs 81 billion, while EOBI has assets worth Rs 148 billion. Former chairman of the Implementation Commission Raza Rabbani also called met Gilani at the PM’s House on Sunday.
The source said that Gilani discussed issues pertaining to the devolution process with Rabbani and sought his advice on how the federal government could keep the retained departments and avoid legal challenges. According to a notification issued on June 30 by the Cabinet Division, the Foreign Employment and Emigration Department of the devolved Labour Ministry had been given to the Overseas Pakistanis Ministry and the WWF and EOBI had been placed under the minister of Inter-Provincial Coordination.
But later, the WWF and EOBI were placed under the Cabinet Division. The Evacuee Trust Property Board of Minorities Affairs Ministry has also been transferred to the Ministry of Human Rights, while the Punjab government demands its transfer to the provinces. The source said Gilani also promised Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in a meeting on Friday that the WWF and EOBI would be placed under the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis.
“The PML-Q leaders asked the prime minister to create a new division with the name Human Resource Development and place WWF and EOBI under it, but Gilani said there was no need to create a new division and the departments could be attached with the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis with a slight change of status and name,” the source added.
Upset: In the same meeting, Gilani expressed anger over the statement by Shahbaz about corruption in Pakistan during his meeting with Baroness Saeeda Warsi during his recent visit to the UK.
“We are asking for donations from the entire world and Shahbaz tells the world that the government is corrupt,” a source quoted Gilani as telling Shujaat. Senator Pervez Rashid, Punjab government’s spokesman said as the federal government’s stance on devolution was weak, it was reluctant to summon a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) despite frequent demands by the Punjab government.
“Not only the PML-N, but the allies of the PPP like ANP are raising concerns over the delaying tactics of the federal government in transferring some departments of the devolved subjects to the provinces,” he said. Under the recommendations of the 18th Amendment Implementation Commission and the federal government was mindful of its constitutional obligations and needed no advice from the provinces.
The source said the PM also told the chief minister that WWF and EOBI would not be handed over to the provinces. He further said no province except Punjab was raising objections to the devolution process. The financial assets of WWF are estimated at Rs 81 billion, while EOBI has assets worth Rs 148 billion. Former chairman of the Implementation Commission Raza Rabbani also called met Gilani at the PM’s House on Sunday.
The source said that Gilani discussed issues pertaining to the devolution process with Rabbani and sought his advice on how the federal government could keep the retained departments and avoid legal challenges. According to a notification issued on June 30 by the Cabinet Division, the Foreign Employment and Emigration Department of the devolved Labour Ministry had been given to the Overseas Pakistanis Ministry and the WWF and EOBI had been placed under the minister of Inter-Provincial Coordination. But later, the WWF and EOBI were placed under the Cabinet Division.
The Evacuee Trust Property Board of Minorities Affairs Ministry has also been transferred to the Ministry of Human Rights, while the Punjab government demands its transfer to the provinces. The source said Gilani also promised Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in a meeting on Friday that the WWF and EOBI would be placed under the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis.
“The PML-Q leaders asked the prime minister to create a new division with the name Human Resource Development and place WWF and EOBI under it, but Gilani said there was no need to create a new division and the departments could be attached with the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis with a slight change of status and name,” the source added.
Upset: In the same meeting, Gilani expressed anger over the statement by Shahbaz about corruption in Pakistan during his meeting with Baroness Saeeda Warsi during his recent visit to the UK. “We are asking for donations from the entire world and Shahbaz tells the world that the government is corrupt,” a source quoted Gilani as telling Shujaat. Senator Pervez Rashid, Punjab government’s spokesman said as the federal government’s stance on devolution was weak, it was reluctant to summon a meeting of the Council of Common Interests.
“Not only the PML-N, but the allies of the PPP like ANP are raising concerns,” he said.



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