Centre, Punjab ready to lock horns over un-devolved depts


A fresh tussle is likely to erupt between the Punjab government and the Centre, as the former has demanded complete transfer of leftover departments of the devolved ministries still under control of the federal government.
Pakistan Today has learnt from sources on good authority that the aforementioned were on the agenda of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and its standing committee would deliberate upon the matter on Monday. The federal government devolved around 20 ministries to the provinces under the 18th constitutional amendment. However, it still retains a few departments despite a lapse of more than a year since the amendment was implemented. The provincial government is going to take up transfer of Aiwan-e-Iqbal, Sheikh Zayed Hospital, besides billions of rupees in funds of the Employees’ Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) among many others still retained by the Centre.
“The matters taken up by the government are all valid because the Punjab government is not asking for WAPDA or the State Bank; it is demanding what has already been devolved legally and constitutionally to the province,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity. The sources said that other matters on the agenda included representation of provinces on federal bodies such as WAPDA and Railways. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has taken up this issue and Punjab will support it because these federal organisations cannot decide provincial policy matters without taking input from the federating units,” they further said. The Punjab government has been calling for a complete devolution of all subjects in “letter and spirit” following the passage of the 18th amendment, however, the Centre has been giving out in “bits and pieces”.
The argument given by the federation was that by holding certain tasks with itself, it could “maintain” quality in case of drug regulation and “efficient” distribution in case of workers’ funds across the country. The sources said Sheikh Zayed Hospital was “partially” transferred to Punjab in return for the government agreeing to a federal drug regulatory authority. Talking to Pakistan Today, Implementation and Coordination (I&C) Secretary Momin Agha said the standing committee of the CCI had been set up to “thrash out” matters before sending it to the CCI — a forum where the prime minister and all chief ministers meet. “All issues the government has taken up are legal while those raised by the Centre can easily be addressed.


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