LAHORE - Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik demanded on Sunday the federation cut its own share and give more resources to the provinces, besides proposing that area, instead of population, be made the major determinant for giving the provinces their share in the federal divisible pool.

Addressing a news conference at a local hotel in Lahore, he expressed reservations over the National Finance Commission (NFC) award formula and said he was not expecting that the next NFC award would be announced on time. If it was delayed, he said, it would be unconstitutional.

The demand of making area the key yardstick, if accepted, would benefit Balochistan most for its being thinly populated but largest province of the country. Earlier, it was being reported that Balochistan is keeping tight-lipped about its strategy for NFC award talks.

Reports are already in circulation that federal and provincial governments would not be able to finalise the next award on time because of difference of opinion. In case no agreement is reached by the first week of June, the existing award would be extended by another year, say federal government sources.

Dr Abdul Malik said he faced challenges on political and economic fronts when took over but the situation was improving now. He said differences are being set aside to promote democracy. He however said poverty, unemployment and shortage of resources are the main problems of the province. He said despite being member of a small party, he as CM has full support of the PML-N and other political parties.

He said there was a substantial improvement in law and order situation primarily because of the free hand given to him by political and military leadership. He said the crime rate has gone down by 40 percent in the last two years while 13 out of 14 high-profile terrorism cases have been resolved.

About education, he said that five new medical colleges and two universities have been set up in Balochistan and he has requested the Punjab CM to give admission to all students applying from Balochistan in Punjab’s educational institutions. He said 5,000 teachers are being recruited through NTS which was a great achievement. He said a judge has been appointed chairman of the Balochistan Public Service Commission. Similarly, he said, through School Bharo and Goodbye to Cheating campaigns, a considerable improvement has been brought about in the education sector.

About the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Balochistan CM said it was a historic project which would open avenues of progress and prosperity from Gwadar to Kashgar. Any issues between federal and provincial governments on this key project must be resolved through talks, he said.

Dr Malik said that Balochistan is rich in mineral resources and there is a need to utilise them through proper planning. To a question, he said work is being carried out expeditiously on Katchi canal project which will bring 700,000 acres of land under the plough. He said total budget of the province is Rs45 billion whereas a sum of Rs55 billion was required only for education.

He said with the help of the National Highways and the federal government, mega projects are being executed and the ECNEC has approved a project of Rs11 billion on Gwadar. Malik said that export promotion zones from Gawadar to Pasni, and Gawadar Airport are being set up with the cooperation of China.