Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Sunday hit back at Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah over his letter complaining about alleged bias in Sindh's development and affirmed the federal government’s commitment to development projects in Sindh.
The chief minister had urged Prime Minister Imran Khan in a strongly worded letter on Saturday to reconsider the proposed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), terming it lopsided as it was "detrimental" to the interests of the people in Sindh. He had claimed that the province was treated with "abject bias" since the ruling PTI government had come to power.
Responding to the chief minister via a video address from Karachi, the federal minister said he would've gotten his answers if he had waited for tomorrow's (Monday) National Economic Council (NEC) meeting "but maybe he isn't interested in the answers and wanted to give a political statement".
Umar said if the allocations set aside for federal projects in Sindh in the last three years of the previous government were compared to the incumbent government's three years then there was an increase of more than 32 per cent.
"The amount set aside for projects in Sindh in PSDP 2021-22, which will be presented before the NEC tomorrow and hopefully approved, is a record amount. Never before in Pakistan's annual development programme have so many projects been set for Sindh."
He hit out at CM Murad and alleged he was "confused" and couldn't differentiate between the people of the province and the provincial government. "Chief minister sahab you are definitely [a part of] Sindh's government but you are not Sindh's masses and we have to spend money on Sindh's people, not the government," Umar said.
Umar claimed that previously, funds sent to the provincial government had instead been diverted to other purposes such as accumulating properties and assets instead of being spent on Sindh and the people of the province were aware about this.
He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had within one year announced two historic development packages for Sindh which covered rural and urban areas with a total of 18 districts being covered under the two packages.
The federal minister said that development projects of the federal government and other federal institutions in Sindh amounted to more than Rs1,000 billion which would be spent in a period of three years. "Never before has any federal government in history spent so much money in Sindh," he added.
"I want to satisfy Sindh's masses that Imran Khan is not the prime minister of any region but the whole country and he does not do biased politics," the federal minister said, adding that various projects had already been inaugurated in Sindh and work would now be carried out at greater speed.
"The people of Sindh will be served and no one will be allowed to come in the way."
Umar also reiterated and gave details on various major development projects underway in Sindh:
- The federal government had taken responsibility for the K-IV water supply project and money was being spent on it
- Billions of rupees were being spent and more would be spent to complete work on Karachi's nullahs by next year
- The Green Line bus rapid transit system project would be complete by September
- More than Rs6.5bn are set aside for Sukkur Electric Power Company
- More than Rs5bn for Hyderabad Electric Supply Company
- A vast amount of Rs8bn for Sindh's universities
- Funds for various canals, small dams and water projects
The federal minister also addressed the motorway projects undertaken in the province and said the federal government completed the Multan-Sukkur motorway project. He added that it was further spending a "vast amount" from the Viability Gap Fund for the Hyderabad-Sukkur motorway.
He said the PTI government was spending a total of Rs300bn on motorway projects in Sindh despite not having a government there and questioned what the PPP had done for motorways during its previous tenures in the provincial and federal government.
"They've (PPP) spent not a single rupee on creating motorways. This (PPP) government and party is asking questions from us on the NHA (National Highway Authority) projects?"