UNHCR goes back on hospital funding promise, PA told
PESHAWAR: The UN refuge agency has backed out of its commitment to provide funds for the reconstruction of a women and children’s hospital in Kohat district, the provincial Assembly was informed on Monday.
During general discussion on the budget for financial year 2017-18, MPA Ziaullah Bangash of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf told the house that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had signed a memorandum of understanding with the provincial government in 2015 for provision of Rs160 million for the reconstruction of the Women and Children Liaquat Memorial Teaching Hospital, Kohat, under the Refugees Affected and Hosting Areas (Raha) programme.
He said the project’s tentative cost was Rs500 million and the government had allocated Rs130 million for in the annual development programme 2016-17.
The lawmaker said the hospital built in 1952 was in dilapidated condition and the communication and works department had already declared its building dangerous.
Mr Bangash said the UNHCR had hired a consultancy firm to carry out technical survey of the project’s site and developed a master plan for it in consultation with stakeholders.
He added that the UN agency formally withdrew from its commitment to fund the project when it was about to be executed.
An official document shows that the UNHCR has committed to providing financial support of up to $1.25 million for the Raha programme for building the hospital’s emergency and administration blocks.
The refugee agency has been providing financial assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of projects in health, education, drinking water and other sectors in the refugee-hosting areas across the country, especially in KP.
Meanwhile, members from both treasury and opposition benches continued debate on the province’s budget for the next fiscal. The opposition walked out of the session chaired by Speaker Asad Qaisar, alleging that the assembly’s secretariat didn’t provide them with the copies of the agenda.
Raising the issue, ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said the assembly’s secretariat was uploading the agenda on the assembly’s website but didn’t provide hard copies.
He said most MPAs were not computer literate and therefore, the secretariat should provide hard copies of the agenda to lawmakers.
“The computerisation of the assembly secretariat’s affairs is aimed at misguiding members and not to educate them,” he insisted.
The speaker disagreed with Mr Babak’s point of order prompting the opposition members to stage a walkout. Later, senior minister Inayatullah Khan and other treasury members went to the opposition’s lobby and persuaded colleagues to end the sitting’s boycott.
The chair ordered the provision of the agenda’s hard copies to the lawmakers.
The opposition rejected the budget, while treasury members declared it the people’s friendly.
Sardar Zahoor of the PML-N said the 10 per cent increase in the government employees’ salary for the next financial year was inadequate.
He demanded the upgradation of the police constables’ posts.
The opposition member said both new and previous budgets had ignored Mansehra district.
He complained that the shortage of drinking water had become a serious issue in Mansehra, while the district also didn’t any college in 36 union councils.
Mr Zahoor said the PTI government was making false claims about the construction of 100 stadiums in the province.
He said there were three playgrounds in Mansehra city but one was occupied by the police, second was allotted for a hospital and third was given away for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
PTI’s Dr Haider Ali Khan accused the federal government of discouraging local and foreign investors from putting money in KP and said the centre didn’t provide due share to the province and thus, adversely affecting work on local projects.
Sahibzada Sanaullah of the PPP appreciated some interventions of the government in health and education sectors.
He insisted that there was no shortage of doctors in hospitals, while the quality of work on construction projects had been improved.
The lawmaker asked the government to issue no objection certificate to him for building additional classrooms in Maktab schools in Upper Dir district.
MPA Meraj Hamayun of Qaumi Watan Party and other lawmakers also spoke on the budget.
Responding to the queries, secondary and elementary education minister Atif Khan said 10,000 additional classrooms had been constructed in schools across the province, while record Rs21 billion had been spent on the provision of missing facilities to them.
He said 40,000 teachers had been appointed to schools and the appointment of 15,000 more was in the pipeline.
The minister said 1.4 million schoolchildren had been given chairs, while 7,500 play areas had been built in schools.