KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the federal government is not serious in running the constitutional bodies as was evident from the fact that the prime minister left the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting without getting the PSDP approved and the next day the national media carried the news that the PSDP was approved.
This he said on Thursday while speaking at a press conference here in the committee room of the old Assembly Building. He was flanked by Sindh PPP president Nisar Khuhro, minister for excise Mukesh Kumar Chawla, adviser on information Murtaza Wahab and adviser on jails Aijaz Jakharni.
The chief minister said that the NEC was a 13-member constitutional body headed by the prime minister and constitutionally it had to meet twice a year. It was the first meeting of the year and the next meeting has to be convened again.
‘A nafees minister is misguiding the prime minister on legal issues’
Mr Shah said that the federal government presented a five-year plan in the NEC meeting and with its presentation the prime minister loudly said “approved”. “At this I told him that neither the plan has been shared with the provinces, nor comments or suggestions have been heard in the meeting, how it could be approved,” he said and added that how the national issues were being handled at the federal level.
Mr Shah recalled that he had written a letter to the prime minister with the request to direct the NHA to expedite work on the Rs14 billion dualisation of Jasmhoro-Sehwan road for which the provincial government had already released its Rs7 billion share to the NHA. The prime minister directed his state minister Murad Saeed to settle the issue. When Murad Saeed came to Karachi, he told the CM to meet him in the Governor House. “I told him to come to the CM House but he did not bother to visit us and then he was promoted as a full-fledged minister,” he said.
Talking about the Karachi Circular Railways, the chief minister said that the railways authority had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that they would start local train within 15 days. Contrary to it, the railways minister was saying that the Sindh government would operate the local train. “The railways is a federal subject and in the past it was the railways ministry which used to operate local trains in the city,” he recalled and questioned that the provincial government had bogies and engines how it would operate local trains.
He said the provincial government had been pressing the federal government to award the same concessions to the KCR which it had given to Orange Line in Lahore. “We are ready to launch the KCR project as it was approved in CPEC projects, but due to the federal government’s reluctance, it is still hanging in the balance,” he said.
Comments on MQM-P
Talking about MQM-P ministers, the chief minister said that one of these `sophisticated’ [nafees people as was commented by the prime minister] ministers was misguiding the prime minister on legal and constitutional issues. He said that not a single penny in the Karachi package has been released so far. “These nafees representatives of Karachi were deceiving their constituents,” he said.
The chief minister said that the 12 five-year plan had set a target of five per cent average annual growth but “I don’t think they will be able to achieve the target but I think they will not be able to achieve four per cent target,” he said. “This is because the prime minister does not meet the stakeholders such as provincial governments, traders, businessmen, industrialists to seek their input. Mr Shah said that he told the prime minister that he was not meeting the chief ministers. “At least you are not meeting me and even you avoid to meet me in Karachi,” he told the prime minister.
The solution of Pakistan’s dropping recoveries was with the Sindh government. “I have advised the federal government to give collection of sales tax to the provinces. We are ready to start collection on behalf of the federal government and deposit it in the national exchequer, but their [federal govt’s] policy is very simple “Don’t work and do not let others work”.
The chief minister said that the federal government had already deleted 36 on-going schemes from its PSDP.
He said the federal government had unleashed an obscure policy of PSDP in which location of the schemes was not reflected, as a result the provinces could not calculate their share. “In the last NEC meeting held in March 2018 I had raised this issue and it has been recorded in the minutes also but again has not been implemented so that the provinces could not raise their voice,” he said.
Mr Shah said that the federal government had refused to finance the Makhi Farash Link Canal project for supply of water to Thar Coal. “They are saying that it was a province-specific or localised project, which is a big joke. This is a national project from where electricity was being produced for the entire country,” he said. He added that the federal government had launched a number of localised projects in South Punjab, KPK and Balochistan.
Mr Shah said that Sindh’s overall share in the federal PSDP had remained less than 11 per cent annually and now it had been reduced to seven per cent. He added that the allocation for 2019-20 was just Rs47.53 billion which constituted seven per cent of the PSDP allocations.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2019