After Supreme Court deadline to release funds for Punjab elections approaches, the federal cabinet decided to forward the matter of releasing Rs.21 billion funds for Punjab Polls to the National Assembly.
On 14th April, Supreme Court (SC) orders the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release funds for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court heading by Justice Umar Ata Bandial expressed “annoyance” over the non-implementation of Top Court order in the Punjab election delay and directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to “release funds directly” to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The bench conducted an in-chamber hearing of the case and issued directives to the concerned authorities and orders State Bank to directly issued funds for elections.
A special meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue was held earlier today in this regard, which decided to refer the matter to the federal cabinet.
This was decided in a meeting of the standing committed chaired by its chairman Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh. Law Minister Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan, deputy governor SBP Seema Kamil, Auditor General Muhammad Ajmal Gondal, Trade and Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar and others attended the meeting.
Briefing the committee members, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar said the Supreme Court has ordered to provide funds for Punjab elections, but there were no funds kept for the elections this year in the Federal Consolidated Fund.
Law Minister Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar informed the panel that the Ministry of Finance had already said that it does not have sufficient funds to hold elections in Punjab on May 14.
“Spending twice on elections is not in the country’s interest”, the law minister said, adding that the apex court had directed the central bank to arrange the funds.
He maintained that the trustees of government funds are elected representatives of the people.
Meanwhile The deputy governor SBP Seema Kamil said they have allocated Rs.21 billion for the Punjab elections as per the Supreme Court’s ruling, but the central bank does not has the authority to release the funds directly.
It should be noted that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was also summoned by the NA body; however, he didn’t attend the meeting today as he was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, according to sources.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Finance and Revenue Aisha Ghaus Pasha emphasised that the SBP cannot spend money without the permission of the parliament.
“If the National Assembly allows funds can be released [to the ECP],” she said, clarifying that even the Finance Division cannot spend without seeking permission from the cabinet and the lower house.
Meanwhile, the law minister said that this issue will be resolved today as cabinet and National Assembly sessions are also scheduled.
Keeping whole situation in view the Federal Cabinet decided to move the election funds summary to National Assembly for the further procedures.