Rawalpindi - The government should release development funds to the heads of local government instead of providing it to the parliamentarians. All the MNAs and MPAs are elected by the masses for legislation and representation on assemblies’ floors and not for renovating streets, road or nullahs. These views were expressed by Syed Kausar Abbas, Director of Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), while talking to media men here on Monday.

He criticized the decision of Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar to allocate funds of Rs 100 million to each member of provincial assembly.  He said government is taking u-turn on its mandate and introducing same political culture which was practiced by the other parties.  “The role of MPs is not to construct the streets and nullahs of the local areas but they have the mandate of legislation, representation and oversight in the assembly,” he said. He added the government is engaging parliamentarians in the same old practices by allocating funds to them for development of local areas which is not their mandate.  Abbas said that the world is pushing towards sustainable development goals but the indicators mentioned in the SDGs are still needs to be achieved by the Government of Pakistan at all levels. He said it was realized that that a country’s progress on achievement of these goals was contingent upon its fiscal discipline, prioritizing of development needs according to resources and efficient allocation and utilization of funds. He added the budgetary process was also one of the key elements in enabling a government towards provision of quality public services to citizens.

He added that the commitment of the incumbent government towards inclusiveness budget is underlined as the government has not yet devised any mechanism to strengthen the local government institutions to make them enable to make their own priorities keeping in view the needs of their areas and people. “The budget making process ought to be participatory, reflecting ownership of communities concerned, transparent and inclusive, “he stressed. He further said the budget document should be visible and accessible to all the relevant stakeholders including the citizens through websites and the notice boards but still the websites of the local government are non-function and the citizens do not have the access to the budget and as well as other public documents of the district and local governments. The proactive disclosure of public information will enable citizens’ to hold the respective public officials accountable for their actions and lack thereof, he explained. Pakistan was in nascent phase in its struggle towards fiscal and budget transparency, fortunately had got a very active and vibrant civil society that keeps it pushing towards the desired goals, Syed Kausar said. He said the budget making process comprises of comprehensive cycle or steps which among others, include timely circulation of budget call-letters, submission of budgetary proposals and report on consultation with the stake holders concerned.