Punjab can only settle devolution concerns with Centre | Pakistan Today

Punjab can only settle devolution concerns with Centre

The Punjab government cannot take outstanding issues regarding the devolution of federal ministries to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) per the constitution, leaving the provincial regime with no choice but to seek an out-of-CCI “settlement” with the federal government, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The Punjab government has several reservations over the Centre’s retention of key institutions and funds of the devolved ministries despite the implementation of the 18th Amendment. The high ups of the provincial regime decided that the matter should be taken up with the CCI, considering it a right forum to resolve issues between a province and the Centre. All administrative departments concerned were directed to finalise their agendas and give inputs in this regard, however, sources privy to the development said another high-profile meeting was held over the issue and the constitutional hindrance was highlighted. It was then that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif decided to reach out to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in an attempt to resolve the standoff outside of CCI, the sources said. They added that Article 154 (1) of the constitution stated that the “council [of common interest] shall formulate and regulate policies in relation to matter in Part II of the Federal Legislative List”. But all outstanding issues were related to the concurrent list, which stood removed after the 18th Amendment and, therefore, could not be taken up with the CCI. “The constitution clearly defines provisions that could be discussed in the CCI…the government has started gathering input from all departments concerned for discussion with the prime minister,” the sources added. Other sources in the government said the CCI was scheduled to meet on August 25 and the Punjab government had not submitted even a single agenda item regarding the devolution of federal ministries. “All agenda items for the Punjab government submitted so far include only matters relating to Zakat, establishing new economic zones and gas pipeline,” they said. Legal experts, however, maintained that the CCI was not the “right” forum to take up outstanding issues of devolution. “The decision to take up the matter in the CCI was only political and had no legal standing… instead the Implementation Commission is the right forum to take up matters regarding the devolution,” they added.

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