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KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said Sindh is the only province relying on its own resources for development works as it generates 24 per cent revenue from its own resources.

Rejecting criticism of the opposition that the tax collected from Karachi is not spent on it, he said that last year Rs8 billion was given to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation for development works in the city. The provincial government had spent Rs7 billion on the Karachi’s development which was visible from the look of thoroughfares and the area around the Empress Market in Saddar where sewage lines had been replaced, he said.

The chief minister said the mayor had asked for Rs9 billion for new schemes and “I have assured him of 100 per cent funding to complete the ongoing schemes,” he added.

Mr Shah expressed these views while winding up the general discussion on Rs1.43 trillion budget for the year 2017-18 on Thursday which was the sixth day of debate on the budget.

He later moved the motion for discussion on the charged expenditure, followed by a discussion and voting on 79 demands for grants on supplementary budget statement of Rs105,893,640,700 for the year 2016.

The opposition submitted 219 cut motions against 37 demands. After discussion on 11 demands, the rest of the cut motions were clubbed together and when put to the house all cut motions were rejected.

After voting on the supplementary budget, the chief minister said that before the completion of the tenure next year, the present assembly might have to give budget for 2018-19. It was also possible that the budget period be extended, as after the completion of the tenure the new government would be formed to conduct the elections in the country, he added.

After the chief minister’s statement, deputy speaker of the assembly Syeda Shela Raza, who was presiding over the session, called it a day at 6.25pm to reassemble on Friday at 10am.

Earlier calling the house in order at around 11.15am, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani gave the floor to leader of the opposition Khwaja Izharul Hasan to wind up the discussion on the budget. In his almost two-hour speech, he criticized the performance of every department of the provincial government. The criticism was responded to by the chief minister in his five-hour speech by reiterating that the people of Sindh could not be misled as they were with the PPP since its formation. He said the people of Sindh would continue to give mandate to the PPP in every election. Some of them had been befooled for some days but they later realized and joined the mainstream party, he added. Referring to the MQM, the chief minister asked their representatives what is the contribution of the man who they had made their leader, while the PPP leaders sacrificed their lives and even in the grief raised the slogan of “Pakistan Khappe”.

Drawing attention of Khwaja Izharul Hasan, he said the leader of the opposition had hurt the people of Sindh by forgetting their sacrifices when they received them with open arms. He said that the PPP had never made discrimination between rural and urban areas. “If you want rights forget to see the dreams to divide Sindh, you will never get right of China-cutting and terrorism. It is my humble request to you to own Sindh and love its soil.”

He said the government had allocated over Rs70 billion for development schemes in Karachi. The roads were not being built for the next general elections but for the next 50 years, he added.

Referring to the Benazir Income Support Programme, the chief minister said that Rs3.5 billion would be distributed among 1.7 million people in the province and each of them would be paid Rs2,000 before June 20.

In the budget, 13 schemes were included for minorities, he said. The government focused the young generation particularly students in the budget as a cash award for all A-graders would be given, he added.

The chief minister said in the new budget around Rs1 billion tax on agriculture income would be collected, because some people were concealing the tax in the cover of tax on the agriculture income.

Mr Hasan said that imposing tax on agriculture income without land reforms was meaningless. He asked the chief minister to inquire the scam of land in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block-6 where a plot of 30 acres costing Rs75 billon was given to a TV channel.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2017