ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani was addressing a policy dialogue on “Future of fiscal federalism in Pakistan – issues and options”, suggested four basic steps as a way forward for fiscal devolution after the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

According to press release the event was held at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad. The dialogue was jointly organized by Rural Development Policy Institute, Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social sciences an alliance of 35 Pakistani Universities and Center for Policy Studies, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad.  

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani suggested four basic steps as a way forward for fiscal devolution after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He said that NFC Award should be given on time i.e after every five years.
 
He remarked that this will be second budget under 7th NFC Award and it is unfortunate that it is being delayed due to the fact that one province has failed to nominate its member.
 
He further said that the items on the Federal Legislative List Part-II are under the Legislative and Administrative control in terms of policy and supervision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI).  

Therefore, it will be appropriate if the budget pertaining to these items and their related departments and bodies is approved by CCI and not the Cabinet, Raza Rabbani added.  He further emphasized that this more even necessary when a new NFC is still pending.  Mian Raza Rabbani also referred to the clause-III of Article 172 of the Constitution dealing with and pertaining to the 50% of equal ownership of oil & gas between the provinces in which it is and federation needs to be operationalised.  

Since the 18th Amendment successive governments have deliberatively not taken any steps in this direction as the federation does not want to release its strangle hold on these resources.  Mian Raza Rabbabi further said that the Senate needs to be given financial powers.  “In almost all the federations of the world, the Upper House which represent the federating units or in some cases the nationalities have financial powers.  

Chairman Senate said that it is also imperative that census should be held immediately because no meaningful planning for resource distribution can take place without the census.  

Chairman Senate pointed out that it is being propagated that provinces do not have the capacity which is an excuse to deny the provincial rights guaranteed by the Constitution to the Provinces.  Chairman Senate underscored the need for strict implementation of the real spirit of the 18th Constitutional Amendment and called for early announcement of the National Finance Commission award with a better monitoring mechanism.  

Responding to various questions, Mian Raza Rabbani said that universities are the pillars of the higher education system and hub of innovation, knowledge creation and ideas. They must have autonomy from all extraneous influences in order to govern and manage their academic, administrative, and financial functions.

After the abolition of concurrent list under 18th Constitutional Amendment education including higher education has been shifted to the legislative and executive jurisdiction of the provinces.  Implementation Commission, constituted under Article 270 AA, after reviewing the powers and functions of Federal HEC as given under the HEC Ordinance 2002, decided that limited extent body would continue to work as Commission for Standards in Institutions of Higher Education as per entry No. 12 of Part-II of Federal Legislative List i.e. Standard in Institutions of Higher Education and research, scientific and Technical Institutions”. It is quite misfortunate even after the lapse of 6 years, new body   Commission for   Standard in Institutions of Higher Education and research, scientific and Technical Institutions has not been established in place of HEC.

Dr. S. M. Junaid Zaidi, Rector, COMSATS, Mr. Amjad Bhatti, Expert on Rule of Law, Dr. Idrees Khawaja, Senior Research Economist, Dr. Talat Anwar, Advisor to Center for Plociy Studies, Mr. Ahmad Zahid Mehmood, former Federal Secretary also shed light on various aspects of fiscal federalism. Seminar was widely attended by experts, academicians, researchers, faculty, media and representatives of Think Tank and Civil Society.