Repeated demands fail to steer Chakwal out of financial crunch

CHAKWAL: Despite repeated demands by the district government, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif seems unmoved to clear the huge financial deficit Chakwal has been facing for many years.

A few days ago, the district government was informed by National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) that its cash balance had been exhausted. As a result, the payment of salaries to the government employees was made through an overdraft facility by the NBP main branch in Chakwal.

On October 3, the district accounts officer (DAO) wrote a letter to the executive district officer (EDO) finance and planning, stating: “Your kind attention is hereby invited that the cash balance of District Govt Chakwal A/C IV has been exhausted and the payment of salaries for the month of September 2016 has been made through overdraft facility by NBP Main Branch Chakwal amounting to Rs8.45 million, otherwise the payment of salaries was not possible.”

The DAO pleaded for the arrangement of funds through the Provincial Finance Commission Award for making payment of claims. “Otherwise this office is unable to make any kind of payment,” the official warned.

He also asked the manager of the NBP Chakwal branch to not make any further payment (through the overdraft facility) from the district government accounts until the provision of funds by the finance department.

The DAO also requested the section officer concerned of the provincial finance department for the timely release of the net monthly PFC award which amounted to Rs398 million, otherwise the district accounts office and the NBP would not be able to make payment of salaries for October.

The letter prompted District Coordination Officer Mehmood Javed Bhatti to also write a letter to the commissioner Rawalpindi division.

In his letter, the DCO informed the commissioner about the financial plight of the district.

He said it had become inevitable to take up the matter of disproportionate PFC award with the provincial government and make serious efforts to get release Rs1,403.959 million over and above the PFC share, which had already been demanded through a summary sent to the chief minister in August.

The Chakwal district is facing a financial deficit of more than Rs700 million.

“Though government made a 10pc raise in salaries of civil servants in the current budget, instead of increasing the share of the district in the Provincial Finance Commission Award it cut down the PFC share of Chakwal by 15pc,” an official told Dawn on the request of anonymity. “This deduction of 15pc has been in place since 2009,” he added.

The local members of parliament also could do nothing to take the district out of the prevailing financial constraints which has disturbed the smooth functioning of the district government.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2016

Courtesy DAWN