PESHAWAR: Minister of State for Narcotics Control Shaharyar Afridi Wednesday said the budget for the merged tribal districts has been enhanced from Rs58 billion to Rs162 billion.

Responding to a question during the question hour at the National Assembly, Rs62 billion have been allocated to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for development budget for tribal districts. The minister of state said the federal government has also released Rs48 billion to KP government for merged districts in the head of the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award share. He mentioned that during the last fiscal year, the Centre released Rs10 billion for merged districts. He said Rs11 billion have been released for temporarily displaced persons (TDPs).

Shaharyar Afridi said Centre has approved Rs1.1 billion of the federal budget for extending the Prime Minister’s National Health Programme for poor families in merged districts. He said Rs1.63 billion have also been provided to the KP government for political expenditure in erstwhile Fata.

Shaharyar Afridi said the government was committed to socio-economic development of merged districts under the merger plan. He said the Centre is in contact with the KP government for resolution of problems faced by the people of erstwhile Fata. He said all the financial matters of erstwhile Fata are looked after by the KP government after the merger. He said five-year Income Tax and Sales Tax exemption has been granted to merged areas.

The National Assembly session witnessed sharp criticism of government over abrupt summoning of the session due to which many MNAs could not reach from their constituencies. The government also came under criticism for unstopped price-hike. The lawmakers from opposition said continuous increase in the prices of food items, fuel and electricity have made the lives of common man miserable.

The opposition members said a thorough debate must be held in the House over unprecedented price hike. They also questioned the continuous absence of Prime Minister Imran Khan from the House.

The government member Murad Saeed insisted that the economic crisis is easing now and the situation is improving gradually.

The opposition members also exchanged hot words with Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan over the issue of gas load-shedding.