Politicians, academicians and civil society members discussed issues related to challenges to the implementation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment on Thursday stressed that for harmony and good governance in the country, the provinces should be part of policy and decision making at the federal level.
They expressed the views at a consultation meeting on the Implementation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment. Arranged by the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS)), in cooperation with the German foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in collaboration with Senate’s Functional Committee on Devolution Process the meeting addressed the topics of Civil Services, Oil and Gas Resources, Council of Common Interests and Education/Curriculum.
Chairman of the Senate’s Functional Committee on Devolution Process; Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi in his address stated the challenges to implementation of the 18th amendment and said that the 18th Amendment devolved the oil/gas resources to the provinces, it is a subject of debate since Article 172(3) of the Constitution has different interpretations.
The article states that “subject to existing commitment and obligations, mineral oil and natural gas within the province or the territorial waters adjacent thereto shall vest jointly and equally in that province and the federal government.”
“It focuses on the equal distribution of revenues, but it does not discuss joint decisions on the subject of oil and gas. It is, indeed, a bottleneck,”
“Federal and provincial governments have confronted each other many times because provinces want to be part of the decision-making process.
He also highlighted the issue of lack of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) secretariat which needs urgent attention.
The Ministry of Petroleum is run by the federal government, but it should be a joint ministry between both parties.
Senator Shahi recalled that the provinces had no say in any ministry or decisions made until the 18th Amendment was introduced in April of 2010, giving hope to the deprived provinces.
“Under the amendment, 17 federal ministries were to be devolved to the provinces, but so far not even five percent of the amendment has been implemented,” he lamented.
Instead of fully devolving the 17 ministries to the provinces, the federal government has established 12 new ministries, he said, likening the act with the banned organization reappearing under another name.
The committee members were unanimously of the view that without giving due rights and devolving the power to provinces, there can never be a strong federation.