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KARACHI: Leader of the Opposition in Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hasan has said if the chief minister is very keen to take the responsibility of Karachi mayor, he should better swap office with him as it seems there are two mayors and no chief minister in the province at the moment.

He expressed these views while participating in the general discussion on the Sindh budget 2017-18 on Wednesday.

Mr Hasan said the federal government had devolved powers to the provincial government and the province ought to give power to the mayor. “Now we have decided that the city mayor will no more seek power from the provincial government to manage affairs of the local government but snatch this right by moving the Supreme Court,” said the leader of the opposition.

Referring to the speech of the local government minister, he said that in the process of reconciliation with the PPP rule his party had suffered a lot, as all institutions were destroyed. From this day on, his party would not accept any offer for reconciliation with the PPP, he added.

Mr Hasan said it was for the first time that the MQM did not present a shadow budget in protest, as the party had expected that the government this year would consult the opposition in preparing next budget but as usual the opposition was ignored.

CM slammed for keeping Karachi mayor’s power

He said the opposition rejected this budget. It was just a copy of the previous budget, which had discriminated rural and urban populations. While Rs26 billion taxes were imposed, no relief was given to the people, he added.

Although it was claimed that tax would be imposed on the agriculture income, the budget did not reflect it, he pointed out.

Also, no fund was allocated for the religious minorities, he added.

He said the provincial ministers had not only criticised the federal government for not giving due share of the NFC award to Sindh but also threatened that gas supply would be cut off. However, he added, when public representatives elected from Karachi demanded due share of Karachi, the provincial authorities felt disturbed. “Yet we would continue to talk about excesses being committed against Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas,” he said.

The MQM leader demanded that the minimum monthly wages be increased to Rs20,000 from Rs15,000, as nobody could manage expenditure of a small family with this income.

He asked as to why PPP lawmaker Ayaz Soomro had been given Rs8.5 million. If he was given this grant for hardship why the Sindh government had failed to contact MQM lawmaker Rashid Godil who had sustained five gunshot wounds in an attempt on his life. “Why was he not given any grant?” On this occasion, MQM lawmakers raised the slogan “Sindh main hoga kese guzara, Aadha tumhara, aadha hamara”.

He was also critical of the money spent on Tariq Road and University Road projects. He said the government was making money from the reconstruction of University Road from Hasan Square to NIPA and from NED University to Safoora Goth on which Rs770 million was spent. He asked as to how come work on the scheme, which was approved on May 16, had been started in December. Similarly the cost of Tariq Road scheme was shown as Rs57 million while according to Nespak assessment its cost could not be more than Rs160 million, he added.

The leader of the opposition was still on feet when Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani after consultation with leader of the House adjourned the house at 6.30pm for Thursday to meet at 10.30am, advising the leader of the opposition to complete his speech at the earliest so that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah could wind up the general discussion and cut motions on the supplementary budget could be taken up.

Besides Mr Hasan, 12 lawmakers had got the opportunity to participate in the discussion. They were Sarfaraz Shah, Ikramullah Dharejo, Sardar Muhammad Bux Mahar, Dr Sikander Mandhro, Syeda Shehla Raza, Syed Nasir Husain Shah, Jam Mehtab Khan Dahar, Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and Syed Qaim Ali Shah from the treasury side, and Aamir Moin Peerzada, Yousuf Shehwani and Faisal Sabzwari from the opposition benches.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2017