T

he supplementary budget approved by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly is facing a lot of criticism from the treasury and opposition benches for exclusively deciding to pass it without getting the relevant stakeholders on board. Many are labelling this budget as an additional budget favouring the province where Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) had the most support. The government of the province needs to provide clarifications for this supplementary budget because of them without a legal stance, this move can be termed unconstitutional. This is because there is almost no precedent with regards to supplementary budgets and such policies are made with the treasury and the opposition on board.

The merger of FATA with KP was bound to affect the budget of the provinces because KP would require more than what was previously allocated in order to give a significant amount for the development of FATA and its mainstreaming into the federal system. If this is the reasoning provided by the government, it needs to have legal backing in order to make it legitimate. In order to remove the label of the government making decisions exclusively, the relevant stakeholders must be contacted. However, it is also the job of the treasury and the opposition to come to the discussion table while the bill is being presented.

Refraining from debate while the bill is being tabled and then going on to criticise the government for exclusively making decisions is also unfair because the discussion did not take place in due time. At the same time, the government must be ready for all legal challenges because once the budget is approved, such changes are not permitted. This is especially true considering the government’s austerity drive. It should be setting the precedent for cost-saving rather than authorising a cost overrun.