The Council of Common Interests (CCI) held a long-delayed meeting with a heavy agenda. The meeting was held after a thirteen month hiatus which is a huge constitutional gap. The body is supposed to meet after every three months. The delay was caused by Sindh demanding more items on the agenda and its due share from funds held by the federal government.
It seems Sindh is being treated unfairly due to a government by the opposition. The prime minister has not announced any substantial financial package for Karachi. The projects funded by the federal government are ongoing at a slow pace, while the metropolis- where the PTI won several seats- remains in shambles.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah met with Prime Minister Imran Khan, complaining that the premier didn’t meet him give him time on recent visit to Karachi. The prime minister agreed that the reservations were genuine and that he would visit Karachi again this week, but coincidentally Sindh CM would then be in Rawalpindi for the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto.
The prime minister is probably staying away from the Sindh government. He has expressed his dissatisfaction over the massive corruption in the province stating that it is not faltering but has failed. The approach is unlikely to solve any problems and both sides should set their political disputes aside and work for the betterment of the province.
PM Imran Khan has assured that all provinces would be given their due share. The federal government has agreed to resolve the complexities regarding the allotment of funds. All provinces have genuine complaints that funds were transferred to the Centre in an unauthorised and unconstitutional manner. These funds belong to the provincial government and any arbitrary withdrawal is a violation of the constitution.
The CCI is the highest forum to discuss financial matters and should resolve the power-sharing disputes. It is unconstitutional that the federal government is not releasing the funds of three provinces – Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab. The 18th Amendment devolved funds collection to the provinces but there has been no implementation and the federation is holding these funds.
The move impacts provincial autonomy as the funds could be used for development and infrastructure projects. Provinces have to generate their own funds without any new resources. The CCI should hold regular meetings and resolve outstanding issues. It mandated role should also be revisited as the federal government needs to devolve resources and responsibilities to the provinces.