KARACHI: The Sindh government is all set to present an essentially ‘tax-free’ provincial budget for the financial year 2021-22 in which salaries of government employees would be increased by 25 per cent.
The minimum monthly wage will also be increased in the provincial budget. The raise will be higher than what the federal government has announced in its budget.
While talking to Dawn, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the provincial budget would be expenditure-oriented with a substantial increase in development spending as Rs300 billion was being allocated in this portfolio.
“Besides, the health, education and social protection will be in the primary focus in the budget,” he added.
Rs300bn earmarked for development portfolio
The chief minister, who returned home on Sunday morning from the United States after a three-day personal visit, said that pro-poor schemes could not be taken up aggressively because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“They will get substantial allocations in this year too,” he said.
The chief minister said that districts would get increased allocation for their development portfolios and local council budgets were also being substantially increased.
Focus on public-private partnership
The chief minister said that because of resource constraints, the public private partnership (PPP) projects would be mainstay of development, especially in Karachi.
“Projects like Malir Expressway, Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, urban roads project in Karachi, Hub Canal and treatment plants will get special thrust in the next fiscal year,” he said, adding that the focus was on completing a maximum number of ongoing uplift schemes in the next fiscal year.
He also said that the minimum wages in the province would be increased more than that of the federal government’s announcement in its budget.
He said salaries of provincial government employees would be increased by 25pc on the direction of Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
He said that the collection targets for the excise and taxation department and the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) were being pitched above 20pc.
“The provincial revenue collecting agencies would switch to Alternate Delivery Channels (ADC) from next year, after agreement already signed with the State Bank of Pakistan,” he said.
He pointed out that the collection of taxes and receipts through ATMs, credit cards and internet banking had now become possible.
Mr Shah said that e-stamps for collection of stamp duties would be introduced within the first three months of the next financial year as all preparation had been made by the Board of Revenue (BoR).
In reply to a question, he said that no new tax had been proposed in the upcoming budget, which would essentially be a tax-free one.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021