KARACHI: Terming the growth shown in the national economy by the federal government as ‘eyewash’, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday said Islamabad would have not revised its allocations if the economy had shown such progress.
He said the Sindh government was facing a shortfall of Rs82 billion in federal transfers and it had badly affected the province’s budgetary commitments.
Speaking at a press conference along with provincial ministers Ismail Rahu, Imtiaz Shaikh and Nasir Shah, he said that the provincial government was told that it would be given Rs742bn from divisible pool and straight transfers but at the end of the day the federal government revised the province’s share to Rs680bn.
He added that during the last 11 months the provincial government had received Rs82.5bn less than its actual share.
Says Sindh has been facing a shortfall of Rs82bn in federal transfers in 11 months
Talking about the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), the chief minister said that Sindh was given those projects which were not required.
“In 2020-21 PSDP the federal government had allocated Rs9.7bn for different schemes in Sindh but they could utilise only Rs500 million,” he said and added that the provincial government was not consulted when its projects were included in the PSDP.
Talking about the census, the chief minister said that he had submitted a dissenting note in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) when it approved the National Census 2017.
“I have referred the matter to parliament and a joint session would be called to discuss the matter,” he said.
“Had the actual family size of households in Sindh been counted the population of the province would have been more than 62 million,” he added.
Centre slammed for water, gas crises
Mr Shah said that he was not accusing any province of stealing water as his grievances were against the federal government which did not allow the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to implement the 1991 Water Accord in true letter and spirit.
He said that during June 1 to 10, Sindh and Balochistan faced 35 per cent shortage and Punjab faced 23pc shortage while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received 38pc water more than its share.
“We are of the view that the shortages should be shared equally as per the water accord,” he said, adding that the Attorney General of Pakistan in his report on the 1991 accord had endorsed the point of view of the Sindh government.
“I am surprised in this scenario Irsa is silent but the federal government through its inspectors was trying to inspect our water. Our grievance is very simple that the distribution of water is being made in violation of the 1991 accord,” he said.
He added that the issue was legal and technical, but the federal government was trying to make it political.
The chief minister while criticising the federal government said that instead of reviving the Pakistan Steel Mills it was closing it.
He said that Sindh was facing gas shortage, which was also a violation of Article 158 of the Constitution.
“The constitution under Article 158 gives priority to the people of the area from where gas is produced but this is not happening here,” he said and added whenever he talked about the issues of the province he was accused of playing the ‘Sindh card’.
He said that being chief executive of the province it was his duty to protect the rights of the people of the province.
Giving an oblique reference to Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s press conference in which he had strongly criticised the Sindh police, the chief minister said he had no right to make mockery of the policemen who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and restored peace in Karachi.
He said that 81 policemen, including 45 in Karachi, 36 in Sukkur and Hyderabad regions had laid down their lives in the line of duty in the last three years.
“It is the Sindh police which have fought against outlaws, terrorists, dacoits, land mafia and drug mafia and restored law and order in the province, particularly in the city,” he said and added Karachi was seventh most dangerous city in the crime index of the world and now it had come down to 198th.
Meagre resources for Karachi
Replying to a question about a survey that put Karachi in the list of least liveable cities of the world, the CM said that the resources of the provincial government were meagre. “We have to invest in water, solid waste, road sector, drainage and other sectors hugely,” he said and added for the purpose the federal government and international donor agencies would have to support the provincial government.
He said that public investments on development projects in Karachi had been increased during the last five years (2015-2020) focusing on infrastructure and human development.
“Overall security and investment environment has been improved significantly,” he said and added the provincial government has initiated various development programmes and projects for Karachi, which were at various stages of implementation.
In the next financial year’s budget about $438 million would be earmarked for various development projects for Karachi in the Annual Development Programme in order to provide a robust living standard for the people of the metropolis, he added.
To a question on the Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) violence, the chief minister said that 28 FIRs had been lodged, including two by government officials for damaging government property, one each by Bahria Town and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and 24 by private persons.
He said 120 persons were arrested on the spot and 36 others nabbed after having identified them through footage.
He added that six persons had been released and several got protective bail.
“We will not allow the right of peaceful protest to turn into violence,” he said. “If you come onto road and raise slogans against Pakistan then what difference would there be between us and Altaf Hussain,” he said.
Replying to a question about the ongoing operation against dacoits in the katcha area, Mr Shah said that their supply line had been cut off and with the support of other provinces the police and other law enforcement agencies would launch a comprehensive and vigorous operation to eliminate the dacoits.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2021