SINDH Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presenting the budget on Wednesday.—PPI
SINDH Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presenting the budget on Wednesday.—PPI

• 10pc increase in salaries of govt employees
• Rs34.2bn social protection package
• Health, education budgets raised by over 16pc, 10pc
• Risk allowance for health personnel fighting Covid-19
• Rs440m allocated for locust control

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the finance portfolio, presented a Rs1,241.13 billion budget with a deficit of Rs18.38bn for the financial year 2020-21 in the provincial assembly on Wednesday.

Among the notable figures of the Sindh budget was a 10 per cent across the board increase in the salary of government employees up to grade 16 and five per cent increase in the salary of officials above grade 17.

In his budget speech amid a noisy protest by opposition parties in the Sindh Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Grand Democratic Alliance, the chief minister said that no new tax had been introduced in the budget 2020-21 and the increase in non-development expenditure was restricted to seven per cent only.

Mr Shah said development expenditure was estimated at Rs232.94bn, non-development expenditure at Rs968.99bn, and capital expenditure at Rs39.19bn.

The chief minister said the total revenue receipts were estimated at Rs1,222.75bn, including federal receipts at Rs760.30bn (65 per cent), provincial receipts at Rs313.39bn (26.8pc), capital receipts at Rs25bn (2.1pc) and other receipts at (FPA & PSDP) Rs69.05bn (5.9pc).

He said the increase in non-development expenditure was mainly due to the provision of Covid-19-related pro-poor “Social Protection and Economic Sustainability” package of Rs34.2bn and increase of Rs19bn in the health sector and Rs22.9bn in the education sector from the current year’s budget allocations.

The CM said agriculture contributed 24 per cent to the GDP. “Sindh’s contribution to national production is 36 per cent in rice, 29 per cent in sugarcane, 34 per cent in cotton and 15 per cent in wheat,” he said, adding that the agriculture budget was increased to Rs14.84bn. He said there was an imminent threat of food insecurity due to locust attacks, which were not only destroying crops but also putting the economy at stake. He said the Sindh government allocated Rs440 million for locust control.

He said the health department budget was raised by 16.1pc to Rs139.18bn to boost efforts against Covid-19 pandemic and infectious diseases. He said health risk allowance, at the rate of one basic pay with effect from March 2020, would be provided to all health professionals, including postgraduate and house job officers engaged in treating Covid-19 cases.

The education department budget was also augmented by 10.2pc to Rs244.5 billion for quality education and to cope up the post-pandemic academic challenges, he said.

According to Mr Shah, this year overall federal receipts were reduced by Rs71.72 billion or nine per cent as compared to the current financial year 2019-20.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020