As the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) assured the court that a new notification shall be issued for the constitution of the 10th National Finance Commission (NFC), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday adjourned the hearing until July 22. The AGP maintained that the government shall take back the 10th NFC makeup notification.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khurram Dastagir.
Over the course of the hearing, the attorney general for Pakistan told the judges that a member of the commission has already resigned from it. “I will advise the government to issue a new notification for the NFC composition and withdraw the one challenged in the high court,” he said.
He said that a new notification needs to be issued after the resignation of a member of the NFC and sought three weeks’ time in the hope that a new notification would be issued by the next hearing.
On May 28, the IHC had issued notices to the federal government on the petition challenging the composition of the 10th NFC.
Notably, the Balochistan High Court (BHC) on the last Tuesday annulled the notification issued by President Dr. Arif Alvi for the constitution of the 10th National Finance Commission (NFC), ruling that the appointment of NFC members was not in accordance with the constitution. In its judgment, the court also annulled the appointments of Finance Adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the federal finance secretary as members of the NFC. The court has declared that Hafeez Shaikh cannot be a member of the 10th NFC.
The court, while issuing orders for implementation of Article 160 for the appointment and procedure of members of NFC Awards, remarked that the Balochistan governor should appoint a new member from the province on the recommendation of the provincial government.
Since the country does not have a regular/elected finance minister, President Dr Arif Alvi authorized the inclusion of Shaikh in the commission to enable him to chair meetings of the NFC otherwise there was no room in the Constitution for an adviser to be even a member of the commission let alone preside over its meetings.
10th NFC makeup notification: Javed Jabbar’s nomination to represent Balochistan?
It is noteworthy that former senator Javed Jabbar earlier this month announced his resignation from the 10th NFC.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani had nominated him as non-statutory member from Balochistan to the 10th NFC that President Dr Arif Alvi constituted vide a notification put out on May 12.
It is worth noting that the decision that Javed Jabbar would represent Balochistan in the 10th NFC Award has raised many questions in the political realm. Maria Malik, an academic and researcher, has recently questioned the inclusion of Javed Jabbar in the commission. Ms. Malik is the author of Balochistan Conundrum: The Real Perspective.
“The opposition and several analysts believe, she maintained, “that the nomination is not representative of Balochistan and its financial interests and concerns and a person more specialized in fiscal matters of Balochistan should have been nominated by the provincial government.”
Read More: Why is NFC award delayed?
While commenting on the economic conditions of the people of Balochistan and the 10th NFC Award she highlighted that: “Over 70% of the people in Balochistan live in multi-dimensional poverty and half of the province’s population lives below the poverty line with lack of access to basic health and educational facilities. The province accounts for Pakistan’s 43% of the total landmass and is home to only 6% of its total population. The infrastructural development is almost next to none, highly un-urbanized and the employment opportunities are usually very competitive as the people of the province have to compete against people from other provinces for these job listings.”
The four private members who have a critical role in articulating the views and interests of their federating units. The finance ministers, nominated for the NFC, come from political parties. They are elected representatives and most of them may not be public finance experts. They follow the directions of their respective political leaderships.
The private members are named for the NFC by the provincial governments after approval from their cabinets. They play an important role in achieving consensus on the apportionment of federal taxes among the units of the federation.