KARACHI: The debate on the provincial budget began in the Sindh Assembly on Monday, which was a rare quiet day since the opposition sat on their benches patiently despite rejection of their resolution by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who did it on the grounds that no other business could be taken up during discussion on budget.
Before the budget discussion began, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Khurram Sher Zaman sought the chair’s permission to move a resolution to present his party’s viewpoint on a Sindh government decision declaring the speaker’s chamber a sub-jail for Speaker Durrani. However, the chair disallowed him.
The proposed resolution had termed the Sindh government’s action as “contempt to the house and people of Sindh”. It said such actions were not acceptable.
However, unlike previous proceedings, members of the PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance stayed peacefully in the house until the chair adjourned the day’s proceedings.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sohrab Sarki began the debate in which he appreciated the provincial government for making greater allocations for development in Karachi and elsewhere in Sindh.
He slammed the federal government for allocating only Rs12 billion in its budget for the next financial year against the promised Rs162bn.
The speaker issues production order for held PPP lawmaker Faryal Talpur
He appealed to all members of the National Assembly belonging to Sindh to raise their voice against the federal government’s “injustice” to Sindh in next year’s development portfolio.
GDA’s Razzak Rahimoon said the provincial government’s allegations against the federal government vis-à-vis not sending Sindh’s share in the national kitty were false, claiming that the earlier funds given to Sindh by the Centre were already “embezzled”.
He criticised the Sindh government for continuously ignoring Thar district where children were dying and none of the 750 reverse osmosis plants was functional.
He claimed mothers in the desert district were at risk yet there was no well-equipped maternity home in Thar.
PTI’s Bilal Ghaffar said some six million children of Sindh were still out of school, while 40 per cent of them were stunted.
He claimed the Sindh government had shown grants given by Islamabad as revenue collection in the budget books.
PPP’s Zulfiqar Shah said the opposition should also appreciate the government’s good things instead of sticking to criticise the government for the sake of criticism.
He said apart from many other things, agriculture had improved in districts of Thar and Mirpurkhas.
He added Sindh had already rejected the PTI in last year’s election and now “people in other regions will throw PTI-led government out”.
“People elected us for the third time because of our good performance in past tenures,” he said.
MQM-Pakistan’s Waseem Qureshi said Sindh’s education had gone further downward because of rampant use of unfair means in examinations.
He said water was rationed in the city because of its shortage, but when the Hub Dam was full and provided water to the areas in district West, water supply in district Central was still poor. “People of Karachi want water, but you are not listening to it.”
PTI’s Raja Azhar said that the Sindh government had failed to offer any relief to Thar when it endured worst drought and there was no serious effort on the part of the PPP government for uplift of the desert region.
He said the provincial government did not resist the previous federal government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz when the latter exported 40,000 tonnes of wheat of Sindh to Afghanistan instead of providing them to Thar and other food-starved areas.
He said barring two schemes worth Rs100m, the provincial government had ignored the food department.
PPP’s Ghazala Siyal appreciated the provincial government for making allocations for meritorious children who passed their examinations with distinction.
She said similar allocations be made for the students in universities as well.
MQM-P’s Ghulam Jilani said the Sindh government had “deceived” people of Karachi in the name of transport and water supply.
He demanded that the property tax be withdrawn and the agriculture tax be increased.
PPP’s Hina Dastagir said the government had offered a “realistically best” budget despite meagre resources.
She said the Centre had not paid more than Rs100bn to Sindh which had overstretched the government; still, allocations for key sectors had not been compromised.
PTI’s Shahzad Qureshi termed the PPP’s 11 years in government as the “time of bad governance and misrule”. He said the education sector had gone worse and the government was doing nothing.
PPP’s Ghanwer Isran criticised the federal government for “unconstitutionally” taking over three major hospitals of Karachi and thereafter not allocating “a single penny” for the health institutions.
However, he added, the Sindh government was committed to improve Sindh’s healthcare profile and had kept billions of rupees for the three hospitals in next fiscal’s budget.
He criticised the federal government’s “faulty” financial policies, saying, “the tsunami of change is a complete disaster for the country”.
PTI’s Dewan Sachal said 52pc of children in Sindh were not in school. Besides, he demanded greater allocations for the projects meant for Christians in Karachi.
PPP’s Shahnaz Ansari said despite critical fiscal conditions in the country, Sindh’s budget offered hope.
Her colleague in the ruling party, Farrukh Shah, said the federal government had presented a budget dictated by the International Monetary Fund. He criticised Islamabad for not allowing Sindh’s share of water.
Tanzeela Sheedi, another PPP lawmaker, said the prime minister was still not accepting the people of Sindh as his own despite the fact that “we accept that you are our prime minister”.
She said Badin’s lands had gone barren because of non-availability of water. She demanded that the government launch an exclusive scheme for Badin to salvage its once fertile lands.
Faryal’s production order issued
Speaker Durrani issued production orders for PPP lawmaker Faryal Talpur, who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau in connection with fake bank accounts case.
In a letter addressed to the NAB chairman and the bureau’s Karachi director general, the speaker summoned Ms Talpur to attend the session of the provincial assembly till prorogation.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019