KARACHI: Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah told the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday that his government had received Rs505 billion out of the federal government’s revised promise for Sindh’s share of Rs631bn at the dying moments of the current fiscal, and the province had yet to receive Rs126bn from Islamabad.
“I pray that may federal government achieve its targets, else it will make our financial difficulties worse,” said Mr Shah while delivering a policy statement on the third day of the debate on the next fiscal’s budget he had presented last week.
Mr Shah said his government had received another instalment of Rs13bn from Islamabad that took the total to Rs505bn, some Rs126bn less than Sindh’s share from Islamabad, which had already been slashed by the federal government by Rs35bn — from original Rs666bn to Rs631bn.
He said the federal government’s wavering attitude vis-à-vis such vital economic and financial issues was creating issues with the provincial government.
Mr Shah said his government was trying to achieve its collection targets and hoped the relevant authorities would succeed.
He lamented that the opposition made personal attacks targeting him, but he hoped such attitudes would be avoided in the future.
He appealed to the lawmakers to help his government in eradicating the stubbornly persistent scourge of polio from the province.
PPP lawmaker urges govt to address child mortality in Thar
CM Shah appreciated the house for seriously taking part in the debate on the next fiscal’s budget at a time when such a debate was not possible in Islamabad and other provinces. He said 42 speakers from either side of the aisle had already spoken in the house in the past two days.
On Wednesday, some 25 members belonging to the treasury and the opposition benches, totalling 67 out of the house’s 168 members, spoke on the third day of the budget debate.
Opposition cheers PPP lawmaker
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Rana Hameer Singh’s speech forced the lawmakers sitting on the other side of the house to thump their desks when he said the vision of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto was not being applied in letter and spirit by the PPP-led Sindh government in saving children in Thar.
He said deaths of children in the desert district were on the rise despite the fact there were hospitals and dispensaries in its seven talukas.
Mr Singh said it was about time to effectively implement the lady health workers’ programme as conceived by the late Benazir Bhutto in 1994.
“Deaths of children are much fewer in the region where LHWs programme is being implemented effectively,” he said.
Besides, he said instead of punishing quacks, the government should design training courses for such individuals to help the government in improving health delivery service as the provincial government still lacked infrastructure mandatory for providing better healthcare to the people in remote regions.
He said 26 of the 68 union councils of Thar had sweet water and the government should design a “sweet water belt” to make the desert green.
He also demanded early remodelling of Nara Canal, which had hit snags for many years. Mr Singh said the issue of enemy property had not been resolved despite a lapse of 45 years and demanded its resolution. PPP’s Naeem Kharal said despite financial difficulties created by the federal government, the Sindh government had composed a balanced budget that offered hope instead of depression created by the federal budget.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Sadaqat Hussain alleged that the government had deprived the people of basic facilities such as water and power, thus violating basic human rights.
PPP’s Sarfaraz Shah said the Sindh government had, in addition to many other facilities, provided much improved peace across the province.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Rabia Azfar said standards for early childhood education announced by the chief minister had not yet been set.
She said there were 16 schemes related to early childhood education ongoing since 2016, but they were not provided the needed funds.
She said many schemes had not been completed since 2008 and asked how Sindh’s education profile could improve when such vital schemes were not being completed for decades.
PPP’s Siraj Soomro said coming decades would belong to Thar as the government was making plans to provide river water to the desert.
Grand Democratic Alliance’s Arif Jatoi said more than a million young graduates were increasing the ratio of unemployment, wondering how the provincial government’s announcement of providing 6,000 jobs would improve all that.
He said the alarming incidence of HIV and hepatitis in Sindh was ample proof that the government had failed in serving its people.
He defended Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that the latter had already warned the nation about two difficult years ahead and asked the chief minister to speak with similar straightforwardness.
PPP’s Heer Soho showed photographs of some personalities belonging to the PTI asking why they had not been arrested for the allegations severer than the PTI’s political opponents.
MQM-P’s Riaz Haider said despite certain education emergency, the provincial education profile was extremely poor.
PPP’s Lalchand Ukrani said the opposition members had perhaps found no time to study the budget books.
MQM-P’s Hashim Raza said the budget was as “biased” towards urban areas as previous budgets had been.
PTI’s Sanjay Gangwani said Sindh’s hospitals were in a pathetic condition.
PPP’s Perveen Qaimkhani said the PTI’s claim of representing Karachi was a farce.
GDA’s Rafiq Banbhan asked why tuition centres were fleecing people in every city when the government repeated claims about free education.
Sadia Jawed of the PPP claimed Sindh was the only province where school education was free, adding that the federation had promised Rs162bn for Karachi but had allocated funds for just six schemes.
PPP’s Karim Soomro said the PPP had offered a balanced budget to the people of Sindh while, on the other hand, the federal government had specifically targeted the poor.
Sanjay Parwani, Rabistan Khan, Aziz Junejo, Waryam Faqir, Shahryar Shar, Sher Mohammad Bilalani, Awais Jokhio and Bilqees Bano also spoke.
Faryal’s production orders
Ex-president Asif Ali Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur, a member of the Sindh Assembly who is detained in Islamabad on graft charges by the National Accountability Bureau, was not brought to attend the session even two days after Speaker Siraj Durrani issued her production orders.
Officials at the assembly’s secretariat said production orders could be issued only once. However, they would be in communication with the authorities concerned.
Sadia Jawed, information secretary of the PPP women wing, said the party could move court on the issue if Ms Talpur was not allowed to attend the budget session.
Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2019