Writing its books at the start of the fiscal year, the province left a major chunk of its earnings dependent on non-tax receipts from the federal government.
Insiders privy to the matter said Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan’s participation in Tuesday’s public hearing at the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority office in Islamabad to defend the province’s interests speaks volumes about the government’s nervousness.
“This was the first time since 1997 that both the K-P CM and chief secretary attended the Nepra hearing,” said a government official. The gravity of the situation even forced Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad to walk to the CM House for the preparatory meeting.
The official, who was present at the hearing, said K-P’s budgetary calculations will all go haywire if that cheque does not arrive. K-P gets Rs6 billion from the Centre in terms of NHPs every year. This time around, it overstated the amount by a whopping Rs11 billion. In getting this matched, the province has to persuade the Centre to uncap the NHP rate and increase it.
To honour the request, Water and Power Development Authority has already asked Nepra to increase power tariffs. K-P government’s legal adviser Shumail Ahmed Butt is fighting the case for the province. “People objected over the increase in tariffs and shifting the burden on consumers,” he said.
He added all parties of K-P are united over obtaining the province’s share from the federal government. “Backdoor negotiations are well under way.”
“We need three votes in Nepra to win our case. Punjab will get Rs9 billion if the new rate is accounted for. If Punjab sides with us, we will then need only one more vote,” he maintained.
If the money does not arrive, K-P will have a serious financial meltdown, he warned, adding the crisis will begin to engulf the province in two months.
Qaumi Watan Party MPA Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli was also present at the Islamabad moot. She said everyone has agreed on this one-point agenda. “We will go to the courts or raise the issue in the Council of Common Interests if our rights are usurped.”
The CM went to the public hearing because the issue is very important for the province and it’s the beginning of a good trend, she said. “Who will take responsibility if K-P faces a financial collapse?” Tahirkheli said the Centre is not interested in announcing any megaprojects for K-P and the law and order situation is already precarious.