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Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Pakistani Government on (a) power-sharing arrangements between the provincial and federal governments in and (b) the distribution of funding to different parts of that country; and if he will make a statement. (270100)

These issues are raised as part of our ongoing co-operation with the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to establish strong democratic frameworks at federal and provincial levels.

During a visit to Pakistan in July 2008, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) offered to share UK experience of public administration of central and local government. This was reiterated when the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State visited Pakistan in April 2009.

During discussions involving officials from our High Commission in Islamabad, in preparation for the 17 April 2009 Tokyo Donors' Conference, Pakistan's Secretary for Finance recognised that the Government of Pakistan's budgetary allocation gives insufficient weight to the North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan and the Federally administered tribal areas. Pakistan wants assistance from the World Bank to establish a Trust Fund for the border areas which will also provide for governance reform there. The UK supports this initiative.

The UK also supports the Government of Pakistan in distributing funding throughout Pakistan through the Department for International Development's (DSD) Development Partnership Arrangement. DFTD gives budget support to the Government of Pakistan to help it increase spending on sectors such as health and education, and to reduce poverty. DFTD works to improve the capacity of provincial governments to manage their human and financial resources. DFTD is also planning substantial support for the education sector in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan and North West Frontier province.