KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah disclosed on Thursday that K-IV, a joint megaproject of the provincial and federal governments meant to augment Karachi’s daily water supply, was wrapped up in 2018 on the directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“It was said that there was serious corruption in the project, but no corruption has so far been proven,” he said, blaming the prime minister for the inordinate delay in the completion of the project.
Replying to questions during his post-budget press conference, Mr Shah said the federal government had decided to terminate the K-IV project. “He (PM) left after ordering the termination of the project in 2018 on allegations of corruption, but no corruption has surfaced in the past two years,” he said.
Criticising the federal government, the chief minister said that in 2018-19, for the first time in the country’s history, the tax collection had fallen shorter than the previous year, and now again 2019-20 witnessed a shortfall in collection than the previous year. “This would be history in which collection would be less than the last years,” he said.
He said the Federal Board of Revenue had collected Rs3.1 trillion in nine months against a target of Rs5.5tr. “I don’t know whether they (federal government) would be able to collect the targeted amount in the next three months,” he said and added that the federal government was blaming the coronavirus pandemic for its inefficiency in revenue collection.
Bilawal lauds increase in salaries of govt employees in Sindh budget
The chief minister said that the federal government told Sindh that it would receive Rs835 billion against which Sindh was receiving Rs606bn.
He compared a shortfall of Rs229bn in terms of federal transfers to the province as a “dacoity bid” and said that the province had to suffer financial losses due to inefficiencies of the PTI-led federal government. “As per my analysis, they collected just over Rs3 trillion in nine months of the outgoing fiscal year, when there was no coronavirus,” he said, adding that even by going beyond the expectation, collection in the last three months if there was no Covid-19, could have missed the targets by some Rs500bn.
Quoting the World Bank, Mr Shah said that Pakistan’s growth in 2020 would be -2.6 per cent and in 2021 it would be -0.2pc.
The chief minister said that the GDP growth of the country was left at 5.2pc by the previous government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “The PTI government in its first year predicted a GDP growth rate at 3.3 per cent, which later turned out to be 1.9 per cent,” he added. He said this year it was estimated at 4pc and had ended up 0.4pc and now they had the excuse of coronavirus for it.
He said a 2.1pc growth rate was estimated for the next fiscal year which also seemed unlikely to be achieved due to a combination of both their inefficiency and Covid-19.
Mr Shah said the total receipts for the province stood at Rs1.21tr as compared to an estimated expenditure of Rs1.24tr, showing a deficit of just over Rs18bn. “Our revenue expenditure is up to Rs968 billion while current capital expenditure is at 39 billion as the government has earmarked 232.943 billion for development budget,” he said.
The chief minister said that around Rs70bn of the development budget comprised the provincial uplift projects while foreign assistance was estimated at Rs54.6bn and the federal grants stood at Rs8.3bn for next year.
He said that a policy was being developed for next year to provide full funding to the 700 uplift projects that would be completed during the next year.
Bilawal praises ‘balanced’ budget
Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has appreciated the PPP government of Sindh for presenting a balanced budget, which caters to the urgent needs of the people and province in the wake of the coronavirus, locust attacks and poverty.
During a video-link call with the Sindh chief minister, the PPP chairman said by increasing the salaries of the provincial government employees and earmarking “massive” funds for health, education and agriculture sectors, the Sindh government had displayed its commitment to its citizens despite fiscal constraints and the federal government’s non-cooperative attitude.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari pointed out that the PTI governments in centre and other provinces chose to throw their employees at the mercy of unbearable inflation and price hike, but the Sindh government raised salaries and injected more funds into healthcare system to save lives threatened by the coronavirus and other diseases.
The PPP chairman said that the PTI governments had neither the will nor any capacity to think of the people to conceive planning for public welfare as they were lagging behind while Sindh had allocated huge funds for a poverty-reduction programme through the social welfare department at union council level.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020