PM Nawaz Sharif has directed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to arrange around Rs300 billion for development schemes at the constituencies of the ruling party’s MNAs in a bid to secure their re-election in the next general election.
PM Nawaz issued this instruction on Tuesday during the ruling party’s core meeting, which was attended by the PML-N’s senior leadership including Finance Minister Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif.
According to sources, during the meeting the prime minister received detailed briefing on how to strengthen constituencies of party’s sitting MNAs across the country. The premier also took the participants onboard on former military ruler General Pervez Mushrraf’s exit from the country.
Musharraf – who is facing a slew of court cases including a high treason trial – flew to Dubai on March 18 after the government lifted travel restrictions on him. A day earlier, the top court had directed the government to remove Musharraf’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL).
Sources said some of the party leaders were of the view that the federal government’s initiatives – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, LNG deal, power projects and health and education programmes – were enough for the party’s victory in the next polls.
However, the party lawmakers highlighted the importance of constituency politics and urged that the party should focus on Punjab and its 20 constituencies in the rest of the country to ensure its victory.
These leaders were of the opinion that voters of the constituencies might not be attracted by the PM ’s mega initiatives if the streets and roads of their neighbourhood were not built.
They urged the prime minister to allocate around Rs1 billion to each of the PML-N’s National Assembly lawmaker for fiscal year 2016-2017. They said the same amount should also be given to respective lawmakers in the next fiscal year, which will be the last financial year before the 2018 general elections.
Sources said the PM Nawaz agreed with their point of view and asked Dar to immediately arrange around Rs300 billion for development schemes at the constituencies.
A few lawmakers reminded PM Nawaz of the Supreme Court ruling which bars the prime minister from allocating any development schemes for the party lawmakers. However, others were of the view that it would be manageable for the PM to allocate funds under other heads like the previous Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Out of the Rs20billion annual allocation for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Community Development Programme, an amount of Rs19 billion has been handed over to parliamentarians for their uplift schemes.
The federal government has diverted Rs10.4 billion of the Rs19 billion disbursements to Punjab to enable the PML-N lawmakers carry out development schemes in their constituencies.
Sources said the prime minister was quite satisfied with the situation following Musharraf’s exit and said the party had succeeded in coming out of a pressure particularly in Punjab after the former president’s departure to Dubai.