• CM Murad regrets shortfall in federal transfers to the province
• Rs30.9bn proposed for social protection, economic sustainability
• Rs10bn cash transfers to individuals affected by Covid
• Minimum wage increased to Rs25,000 per month

KARACHI: Amid strong protest by the whistle-blowing members of three major opposition parties, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presented in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday a Rs1,477.9 billion tax-free budget with a development outlay of Rs329bn.

He said the economic meltdown due to Covid-19 and inflation had severely affected the lives of ordinary citizens. “We are sensitive to the hardships being faced by the common man and it was against this background that we stretched our resources and rolled out interventions that could provide some immediate relief,” he said, adding: “We began some programmes for empowering the vulnerable sections of our society to gradually move towards ‘inclusive growth’.”

Highlighting some of the projects of immediate relief to the common man, the chief minister said an amount of Rs17.4bn had been set aside as ‘health risk allowance’ for all health professionals in the financial year 2020-21.

CM Shah regretted that actual transfers to Sindh in a fiscal year always fell short of the estimates as the Federal Board of Revenue missed the collection target set for it. “The federal government is the major contributor to province’s finances comprising 72.5 per cent in its entirety,” he said, adding that it was a fact that these shares inevitably fell short of the estimates provided every year, as a result, the provincial development expenditure had to be adjusted to offset the effect.

Mr Shah said that against an estimated budgetary amount of Rs1,073.7bn, the revised receipts of the province for the financial year 2020-21 stood at Rs960.4bn. “We are facing a shortfall on account of federal transfers as during 11 months of this financial year against budgeted receipts of Rs696.944bn, we have only received Rs623.619bn,” he said, adding that based on these figures the province would be facing a shortfall of Rs83.8bn.

He said the federal PSDP receipts were revised to Rs8.302bn, whereas revised foreign project assistance stood at Rs38.29bn. “The provincial tax and non-tax receipt is revised to Rs242.9bn against an estimated target of Rs313.4bn.”

The chief minister said total receipts of the province for the financial year 2021-22 were estimated at Rs1.452 trillion as against budget estimate of Rs1.22tr for the current financial year, showing an increase of 19 per cent. “Receipts from the federal government on account of revenue assignment, straight transfers and grants are estimated at Rs869.68bn, which constitute 72.5 per cent of total receipts of the province, showing an increase of 12.6pc, over estimates of Rs760.3bn last year,” he added.

Mr Shah said the budget estimates of straight transfers for the next financial year had decreased by 20.6pc to Rs49.5bn from Rs62.34bn of the current financial year, adding that the receipts of federal PSDP were estimated at Rs5.37bn. He said the receipts on account of foreign project assistance, budgetary support loans and grants were estimated at Rs71bn, adding that the provincial own sources on account of tax and non-tax receipts were estimated at Rs329.033bn, which constituted 27.5pc of the total receipts. “This is an increase of 4.8pc over estimates of Rs313.4bn of the current financial year,” he said.

The total budget outlay for the financial year 2021-22 is estimated at Rs1.477tr as against Rs1.241tr for the current financial year, showing an increase of 19pc.

CM Shah said the current expenditure of the province was projected at Rs1.14tr, which included current revenue expenditure of Rs1.089tr and current capital expenditure of Rs59.49bn. “This is 78pc of total expenditure of the province and showed an increase of 14pc over estimates of Rs1tr for last year,” he said.

Mr Shah said that 1,033 schemes had been identified for completion during the first and second quarters of the financial year 2021-22 and maximum resources would be provided for their timely completion. “Ongoing schemes with remaining throw-forward up to Rs100 million have been fully funded for completion by June 2022,” he said.

The chief minister said the major milestone of his government’s objectives included providing infrastructure to education institutions to increase enrolments, improving and upgrading health facilities, managing available health institutions, increasing agricultural productivity and value chain as well as conservation of water for agriculture, industrial and municipal consumption.

The chief minister said that the budgetary policies were essentially focused on supporting home-based businesses and small and medium enterprises, and a social protection and economic sustainability package of Rs30.9bn was proposed for the next financial year. He said that Rs10bn was proposed for cash transfers to the individuals affected by Covid-19 under the Sindh Peoples Support Programme.

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 16th, 2021

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