KARACHI: Lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Saturday lamented the Sindh government for keeping the opposition out of budget-making process and demanded that a pre-budget consultation session be convened.

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Shaikh, PTI’s parliamentary leader Bilal Ghaffar, MPA Khurram Sher Zaman and other MPAs told a press conference here that the Sindh government was required to initiate a pre-budget consultation as per the rules.

Mr Shaikh pointed out that consultation with all stakeholders particularly the elected representatives was a mandatory requirement, which was being overlooked by the provincial government.

“It seems the provincial government is preparing an anti-people and mafia-friendly budget and they want to keep the opposition at bay so that they cannot expose their corrupt practices,” he said, adding that it was the right of 69 opposition members in the provincial assembly to present their inputs in the budget to voice their constituents’ needs and demands.

Opposition leader Shaikh demands PPP initiate pre-budget consultations in accordance with rules

He said that due to prudent policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan national economy had started showing signs of improvement as rupee was gaining strength against the dollar, stock markets were witnessing rising trends, exports and large-scale production recorded continuous surge and construction and manufacturing sectors were opening new employment opportunities.

On the other hand, the Sindh government had failed to deliver to public and was only serving personal interests and promoting corruption in the entire governance system, Mr Shaikh alleged.

He said the provincial government wanted to hide its corruption and because of this reason it did not provide the annual report of the auditor general to opposition members who were already denied due representation in standing committees as well as the slot of the Public Accounts Committee chairman.

He said that the health situation in the province had deteriorated despite expenditure of over Rs600 billion, as public hospitals had failed to serve the masses and the provincial government was handing them over to NGOs.

‘Dysfunctional’ immunisation programme

The opposition leader said despite the fact that the federal government was providing vaccine and other necessary items, the vaccination programme under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) was non-functional for the past eight months in Sindh only due to the negligence of the PPP government.

He remarked that due to closure of the immunisation programme outbreak of measles and other diseases was being reported from various areas of the province.

He also censured the wheat purchase policy of the Sindh government where only announcement of support price was made but neither procurement centres were opened to purchase the commodity from growers nor gunny bags were being issued to them.

The government allowed middlemen to exploit the growers and they were purchasing wheat at a price far below the announced one, he said.

The PTI leaders demanded that the Sindh government start wheat procurement through its food department and provide bardana (gunny bags) to growers at the earliest and ensure implementation on support price of Rs2000 per 40kg.

MPA Bilal Ghaffar questioned the sincerity of the provincial government to the people of Sindh since it gave the responsibility of preparing the budget to a person who had allegedly availed plea bargain and was facing corruption allegations.

He said that the provincial government had neglected the clear directives of the apex courts and had not removed such officers.

“The federal government is going to provide relief through Utility Stores while the Punjab government has announced a comprehensive Ramazan package of around Rs10 billion,” he said and added that they were waiting for any such initiative by the Sindh government.

“During 13 years of continuous rule of the PPP in Sindh whole structure of municipal services has collapsed,” he said, adding that there was no water in Karachi, sewage disposal was in dilapidated condition while the Sindh Building Control Authority had become a hub of corruption.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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