Murad claims around Rs70bn to be spent on Karachi’s uplift in upcoming fiscal year

Updated June 27, 2020

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Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah says Karachi was his city and an integral part of the province. — DawnNewsTV/File
Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah says Karachi was his city and an integral part of the province. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Friday said that up to Rs70 billion would be spent on the uplift of Karachi in the next fiscal year 2020-21.

Concluding the debate on the provincial budget in the Sindh Assembly, he said that Karachi was his city and an integral part of the province.

The chief minister said that while a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member stated that only Rs1.94bn was allocated for Karachi in the annual development programme, “Rs60 to 70 billion was earmarked for the city’s different projects in the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21”.

He was of the view that the provincial government’s main source of income was sales tax on services, the major chunk of which was received from Karachi.

“It is understood that more taxes are collected from the place where there is major consumption,” he added.

Opposition leader Naqvi says education, health standards of Sindh declined during past 12 years; budget debate concludes

As for the delay in the K-IV project — a joint megaproject of the provincial and federal governments meant to augment Karachi’s daily water supply — he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Karachi after holding the premier’s office had asked to stop the work. “The prime minister wanted an inquiry and maintained that initially, the project’s estimated cost was Rs25bn but it now exceeded Rs100bn, therefore a probe should be held,” he said.

He said that the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) was given the megaproject’s contract and asked the centre for strict action if someone was involved in any malpractice.

The CM said that a “robbery” of billion of rupees was made by the sugar mill owners who got subsidy during October 2018 to January 2020.

He said that the PTI’s blue-eyed persons were getting caught; that’s why they expanded the probe for the last five years as the sugar inquiry commission was initially tasked to probe into subsidy given to sugar mills owners for just the last two years.

“The Sindh government didn’t give subsidy to any of the sugar mills during 2018-19,” he added.

Mr Shah said that 48 lawmakers of different assemblies were facing corruption charges and booked by the National Accountability Bureau.

“On the one hand, Sindh Assembly members of PPP Agha Siraj Durrani, Faryal Talpur, Jam Khan Shoro, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Qaim Ali Shah, Awais Qadir Shah, Abdur Rauf Khoso, Taimur Talpur, Raja Razzaque, Ismail Rahu and MQM-P’s Javed Hanif were following legal procedures but on the other hand, a member of the opposition facing same charges is moving freely even without obtaining bail,” said the chief minister.

He said that NAB had summoned him once again. “I will appear every time you call but you cannot suppress the voice of Sindh,” he added.

Centre blamed for loadshedding in Sindh

The chief minister condemned the unannounced power loadshedding in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, holding the federal government responsible for the power crisis.

“The K-Electric says it is not getting furnace oil and gas from the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), respectively,” he said, adding that the three institutions were under the administrative control of the federal government.

“It is highly deplorable that people have been deprived of electricity during this unprecedented situation in the wake of coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

He asked why the PM and Petroleum and Power Minister Omar Ayub did not wake up to the prolonged electricity cuts in Sindh, particularly Karachi, that had made people’s lives miserable.

He said that the power utility blamed the PSO and SSGCL for not providing it sufficient furnace oil and gas, but both these departments reject the KE’s claim.

Coming down hard on the PTI, the chief minister said that the way the PTI-led federal government was being run, it might not continue for long, adding “the country has been facing ‘tabahi’ (destruction) ever since the PTI came into power in 2018.

He said that the prime minister in his speech in the National Assembly declared a “known terrorist a martyr”.

“The PTI members always utter such remarks that they have to take their words back,” he added, while asking the premier to tender an apology if it was a slip of tongue.

‘PPP will make fed govt in future’

The chief minister said a PTI lawmaker termed the people of Sindh ‘foolish’ for voting for the PPP, adding that they were not foolish but they voted for PPP on its performance.

“I promise that we will continue serving the masses and PPP will also make the federal government in future,” he added.

He said after the outbreak of Covid-19, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tendered all-out support to the centre and said Imran Khan was his prime minister.

He said that the country faced the worst crisis in 1971 when the country was disintegrated and now the coronavirus pandemic was the biggest issue.

The chief minister said that the provincial government took timely decision to combat the pandemic.

He said that there was highest rate of coronavirus testing and recovery in Sindh.

He said that the recovery rate in Sindh was 54 per cent, while it was 29pc in Punjab and 43pc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that the fatality rate in Sindh was 1.5pc, 2.26pc in Punjab and 3.2pc in KP.

Opposition leader slams Sindh govt

Earlier, at the outset of the proceedings, Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi resumed his speech and said that the provincial government failed to complete several development schemes of different departments.

He said most of the schemes were quite old, and still waiting for completion.

He said that the education and health standards had declined in the province during the past 12 years.

Mr Naqvi suggested that double and triple shifts should be introduced in schools.

He also suggested that mosques could be used instead of running schools in open spaces.

The opposition leader said that the provincial government also failed to provide public transport in Karachi.

He said that the province badly needed development, reforms and good governance for the resolution of the people’s problems.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020