PA passes supplementary budget of Rs106 billion for current fiscal year
Sindh’s chief minister said on Thursday that his government was not constructing new roads across Karachi because of the next general elections, as the roads were being built for the next five decades.
CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said the city mayor was not serious about his work. He made these remarks during a speech in the Sindh Assembly to wind up the debate on the next provincial budget that carried on in the House for seven days.
The legislature also passed the supplementary budget of the Sindh government for the passing financial year with a volume of Rs105.893 billion, as the opposition MPAs’ 219 cut motions to the supplementary budget were rejected through a majority vote.
Addressing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the chief executive said: “You will never again be provided with an opportunity to carry out terrorism or China-cutting [in the metropolis].”
CM Shah said Sindh’s reliance on its own resources for revenue generation had been far better than the other provinces, as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was lagging behind and had to rely on the federal government for up to 89 per cent of its financial support.
He said KP’s development budget was 33 per cent while that of Punjab was 32 per cent, adding that Punjab also relied on the federal administration for its fiscal resources.
He added that the Sindh government relied on the Centre for up to 76 per cent for revenue support, pointing out that Sindh’s budget was far better than that of any other province.
Shah said the provincial administration had filed a case for devolving the power from the Centre to the provinces for collecting general sales tax on goods, while the provincial had prevented tax evasion on the basis of agriculture income tax.
He said that those in Sindh demanding their rights should first become the natives of the province. “If you want your rights, then you should first stop dreaming about dividing Sindh.”
The chief executive said he was the 100th speaker in the House to speak on the new provincial budget, as 24 lawmakers of the MQM-P and 60 of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had addressed the legislature before him.
He said the people of Sindh had remained with the PPP and would continue to do so, adding that efforts were afoot for fooling the locals. “I want to clarify that the people of Sindh will not be fooled again because they know better now.”
He admitted that criticism was a good thing “as I am here to listen to all the criticism, but the opposition criticises unduly, and they are required to appreciate the good things besides criticising”.
CM Shah said the Sindh government had reserved Rs70 billion for developing Karachi in the next financial year, besides allocating Rs12 billion for major schemes. “The drainage system around the Empress Market was overhauled for Rs660 million.”
He said the mayor had demanded Rs9 billion for new development projects. “I told the mayor to first concentrate on completing the ongoing schemes, which I am funding 100 per cent.”
Shah said the government had so far spent Rs161 billion while the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) was provided Rs8 billion in the past eight years for development projects. He asked what the KMC had done with all the funds. “The mayor needs to do more than just issuing statements.”
He said the target of collecting agriculture income tax was Rs1 billion in the new budget, adding that grants for the religious minorities had also been increased.
The chief executive said that some 1.7 million families would be provided Rs2,000 each under the Benazir Income Support Programme, adding that the funds for the purpose would be released by June 20.
He said it was misleading to say that the government was collecting from Karachi but was not spending on it. “Until yesterday the government had spent Rs210.2 billion out of its budgetary allocation, which is a record amount.”
Shah said drainage schemes were completed in PS-112 (Karachi-XXIV) and PS-113 (Karachi-XXV) despite the fact that the constituencies were represented by legislators of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Earlier, concluding his speech from the previous day, PA opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan of the MQM-P said that both the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz did not seem serious about tackling the issue of electricity load-shedding.
Hassan accused the two mainstream political parties of resorting to protests on load-shedding after reaching a compromise on the issue. He said the opposition did not object to the Thar coal mining and power project, but the scheme should have started generating electricity in 2015.
He said nobody had the right to sell precious lands of Karachi at throwaway prices as was done in the case of 25 acres of farmland in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. “Whether it is Dubai-cutting or China-cutting, illegal cutting of all sorts should be stopped.”
The MQM-P leader said work on development schemes worth Rs21 billion had been under way across the province for the past several years, adding that certain projects commenced by the provincial government could not be completed this year. He said that despite spending Rs1 trillion, the Sindh administration could not improve its efficiency.
The opposition leader said the government could not preserve historical and archaeological sites in Sindh, so it was better to bury such places to preserve them forever, adding that the international media had reported antiquities disappearing or being stolen from Mohenjodaro and other archaeological sites in the province.
He said the ruling PPP was following its tradition to serve the area from where it secured political victory while ruining the places where it suffered electoral defeat, adding that silence could no more be maintained on the issue of injustices being meted out to Karachi.
Hassan said the MQM-P did not promote linguistic division or prejudice, but the party would not stop demanding the due rights of its voters, adding that atrocities were being committed against the city, but the rulers had turned their backs on the people.
He said he had been in correspondence with the provincial chief executive, but a number of pressing issues relating to the masses, including the public transport system, could not be resolved.