KARACHI, June 25: If the huge allocations made in the 2013-14 Sindh budget for improving services in the social sector are utilised judiciously through house standing committees, the aims of the budget can be attained.
This was the crux of most of the speeches delivered by 13 lawmakers across the aisle on the third day of the general discussion on the new budget in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday.
Pakistan Peoples Party lawmakers termed the budget “people friendly” while members of the opposition parties said if the funds allocated for education, health, law and order, development of roads were utilised properly, change would be visible in Sindh.
The house, whose sitting was fixed in the afternoon at 3pm because of Shab-i-Baraat, continued from 3.50pm to 8pm.
Earlier, before the floor was given to adviser to the chief minister on finance Syed Murad Ali Shah of the PPP to initiate a discussion on the budget, the house prayed for the early recovery of Abdul Sattar Edhi and former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Taking notice of the absence of the secretaries, who were supposed to take notes of suggestions made by lawmakers, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani told Law Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro that he was going to keep an attendance register outside the door of the gallery to record the arrival and departure time of the secretaries.
After the law minister assured the speaker of initiating action against the officials concerned, Syed Murad Ali Shah initiating the discussion termed the budget a “people’s budget”. However he said there was rampant corruption in the police department, where many would willingly work without demanding any salary. Without following merit in appointments and posting honest officials, the situation could not improve, he said.
Jamal Ahmad of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement said the law and order situation was worsening as good and efficient police officers were sidelined, causing the system to collapse. If the government wanted results, the police needed good physical and moral training.
Samar Ali Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, referring to the huge amount allocated for the health sector, criticised the authorities for the badly maintained health centre at Keti Bunder.
Syeda Shehla Raza of the PPP quoting figures allocated for the education, law and order, health and other social sectors suggested the formation of standing committees at the earliest for proper utilisation of the funds.
She also suggested that services of chartered accountants be hired to ensure transparency in accounts utilised for the implementation of development schemes.
Agriculture Minister Ali Nawaz Khan Mahar said there were gas fields and multi-national firms in his constituency in Ghotki as such royalty share from gas be given to his district and a job quota be reserved for the local youth.
Abdul Haseeb of the MQM said that until people of Sindh became united, there could be no peace and prosperity in the province. If the Rs48.63 billion allocated for law and order was paid to the people, they could protect themselves and there would be no crime in the province.
He also suggested that the NFC award formula be followed for the allocation of provincial resources and justice be done to Karachi.
Humayoon Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz calling for improvement in the life of fishermen and removing the ban on fishing in July to save them from hunger deplored that the life and property of the people was not safe in Karachi. This situation could only be improved if all parties joined hands and found its solution, he said and offered his party’s cooperation in that regard.
Erum Khalid of the PPP said the budget allocation reflected the government’s sincere efforts to provide relief to the people.
Naila Munir of the MQM said that if local government elections had been held during the last tenure of the PPP, the Karachi Circular Railway project would have been implemented by now.
Taimour Talpur of the PPP said there was an urgent need to introduce accountability, “reward and punishment”, pursuing merit in appointments and postings to get positive results. He said the people had a lot of expectations from Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmad Khuhro as over Rs118 billion was allocated to improve the quality of education.
Ashfaq Mangi of the MQM said if the Rs48.63 billion allocated for law and order was utilised properly, peace could be restored. He remarked that youths in Sindh were interested in law and order, clean drinking water, health facilities, employment and education rather than figures of allocation in the budget. He demanded an early announcement for holding local government elections.
Humesh Kumar Malani of the PPP said Karachi was mini-Pakistan and deserved to be developed into a city like metropolises of Europe. He said the law and order problem could only be solved if all parties joined hands.
Sabir Qaimkhani of the MQM said that for education the government had allocated over Rs118 billion without any provision for setting up a university in Hyderabad, which was the second largest city of the province with a population of over 3.3 million.
Calling for an early allocation for the university in Hyderabad, he said peace could not be purchased with money nor life and property of the people could be protected with weapons, but with the participation of the people in the process.
He said they had no objection to giving subsidy to agriculturalist on their produce, but its benefit did not pass onto the common man as wheat, flour and all vegetables were sold in the city markets at inflated rates.
Before the session was adjourned to meet on Wednesday at 9.30am, Sajid Jokhio of the PPP and Nishat Zia Quaderi of the MQM also spoke on the budget.