KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday said that Rs990 billion development projects were at different stages in Karachi and now another allocation of Rs110bn was earmarked for new development initiatives.
“The rejected people of Karachi are making a baseless claim that the city has been ignored in terms of allocation for development schemes,” he said while addressing a post-budget press conference here at the auditorium of Sindh Assembly.
The chief minister said that Rs110bn had been allocated for completion of ongoing and launching new development schemes in Karachi.
“At present, different development schemes of Rs990bn initiated under the Annual Development Programme, donor agencies, public-private partnership are at different stages,” he said, adding that in the next year’s ADP, Rs110bn had been allocated for the development of the city.
The CM dismisses claims of ‘rejected people’ that metropolis has been ignored in budget; asks centre to ensure supply of vaccines
The CM said that at least Rs3,000bn was required for development of Karachi but the provincial government did not have such resources. “Despite the shortage of resources, the PPP government in Sindh has completed and launched major development schemes in Karachi,” he added.
He counted a number of schemes, such as widening of Sharea Faisal, Tariq Road, University Road, Madinat-ul-Hikma Road, Shahrah-i-Quaideen, Hawkesbay Road, construction of a large number of flyovers, underpasses and various others that had been completed by his government.
‘Development budget won’t be curtailed’
The chief minister said that he had presented a Rs1.47 trillion deficit budget but the deficit of Rs25.73bn would be covered by curtailing non-development expenditures.
He said that revenue receipts were estimated at Rs1.45tr, which showed a deficit of Rs25.73bn. He vowed to bridge the deficit without compromising on the development budget and complete 1,009 ongoing and new uplift schemes.
He said that the federal government had revised the federal transfers from Rs760bn to Rs717bn but they had to pay Rs104bn by the end of June.
He said that the federal government had assured him that it would give Rs869.68bn in straight transfers. “During the current financial year, the federal government has allocated Rs62bn in the head of Oil and Gas Development Surcharge for Sindh but for next financial year they have allocated Rs49bn,” he said.
He said that province’s own receipts had been anticipated to be Rs329.319bn, adding that these funds were from tax and non-tax receipts.
He said that the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) was given a target of Rs125bn and hopefully the target would be achieved by the end of this month.
Talking about the excise and taxation department, Mr Shah said that they were given a target of Rs88bn, which they not only achieved but crossed. The department had been given a target of Rs120bn for the next financial year.
The CM said that the Board of Revenue had the target of Rs36.4bn, but due to heavy rains and natural calamities the provincial government had declared various districts as calamity-hit areas and their recoveries were postponed. He said that next year’s collection target of BoR had been kept at Rs30.64bn.
Talking about non-tax receipts, the chief minister said that they were estimated at Rs24bn. “The provincial government through the home department will recover Rs24 billion in challans and some other fees,” he said.
Defends increase in minimum wage
The chief minister said that non-development expenditures were considered a burden on the exchequer, but as a matter of fact these expenditures were essential.
He said that the salaries, pensions, funding in pension funds, grants to hospitals, repair and maintenance were part of the non-development budget.
The CM said that 20 per cent salaries of government employees had been increased.
“Minimum wage, despite wide criticism, has been raised from Rs17,500 to Rs25,000,” he said, adding that it would be ensured that the minimum wage is paid in the private sector.
The CM said that in the government sector the salaries of employees of grades-1 to 5 were less than Rs25,000 and through supplementary grants their salaries would be matched to the minimum wage of Rs25,000.
He said that 57pc of the provincial budget was spent on salaries and pension and if the employees of other government organisations like local bodies were included the salary bill would be 60pc of the total budget.
Replying to a question, the chief minister said that neither Bahria Town would be allowed to encroach upon lands beyond the limits set by the Supreme Court nor any person would be allowed to damage any private or government property inside the mega housing scheme.
‘People have rejected MQM-P’
To a question about the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan which had rejected the provincial budget, the chief minister said that they were themselves rejected by the people and it would make no difference if they had refused to accept the provincial budget.
“The MQM used to have 20 to 25 seats in the National Assembly but now their numerical strength has reduced to six seats because they brutally failed to deliver,” he said.
He said that the MQM members in the provincial as well as in the National Assembly were being used by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and he had warned them about being used.
To a question, the CM said that the federal government had asked the Sindh government to accelerate and enhance Covid-19 vaccination drive but when the drive was accelerated the supply line was affected.
He urged the federal government to take necessary action in supplying vaccines to Sindh and the other provinces.
To another question, the chief minister said that he had grievances against the federal government that had made the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) a “hostage”. He said he did not have any grievances against Punjab.
To another question, the CM said that funds had been allocated to complete all development schemes at Gorakh Hill.
Replying to a question, Mr Shah said that the Nooriabad Power Project of the provincial government was working efficiently and providing electricity to Karachi at the rate of Rs10 per unit. “The cheapest electricity it provides is uninterrupted, but this is not acceptable to some people,” he lamented.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021