KARACHI: A general discussion on the provincial budget 2021-22 in the Sindh Assembly began on Friday when 13 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle took part in it.
Though it was an otherwise calm and chaos-free sitting after a long time, the members from the two sides criticised each other’s leadership.
At the outset of the proceedings, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani expressed his displeasure and dismay over what he called the childish behaviour of some opposition members when the budget was presented in the house.
“You are not children to blow whistles. I have never witnessed such a thing in the house,” he snapped.
Starting the post-budget discussion, Dr Sohrab Sarki of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party said that the provincial government allocated a major chunk of the budget to development sector and increased salaries of government employees by 20 per cent.
He said that the PPP-led Sindh government was often ‘unjustifiably’ criticised for not carrying out works, adding that ‘massive’ works were done during their regime.
Minister Chawla says bill against forced conversion will soon be tabled again in house after some amendments
“First ever medical university in Pakistan was established by PPP’s Sindh government,” he said and added that Rs266 billion schemes were incorporated for Karachi.
GDA lawmaker slams overstaffing
Grand Democratic Alliance’s Shaharyar Khan Mahar came down heavily on the provincial government and said that the fate of the province would change if only 10pc of the total budget was spent for betterment of its people. “The layout of the budget is ample for development of the province,” he said.
He said that there was overstaffing in different provincial departments especially the local government department. He said that there was a town committee in the province where 18 clerks were appointed, while there was hardly need of two clerks.
Expressing concern over deteriorated law and order in the province, the GDA member said that Shikarpur district was affected the most. He was of the view that there was nominal deployment of police in Shikarpur.
He referred to the recent killing of policemen by dacoits in his district and said that the policemen would continue to be killed if effective steps were not taken.
He said that there was massive corruption in the provincial government and added that even the chief minister was named in a joint interrogation team’s report four times. “He will be held accountable one day,” he added.
Mr Mahar said that luxurious vehicles were purchased by the Sindh government to tackle the locust issue.
GDA’s Abdul Razzaq Rahimoon said that in the past, opposition members were also taken on board for uplift schemes but now no scheme was incorporated in the budget on their suggestion.
He said that the schemes of opposition members should have been incorporated in the budget.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member Saeed Afridi said that the provincial budget was anti-people.
He said that the provincial government was incompetent and inefficient as it could not fully utilise the development budget in the last fiscal year.
He said that the provincial government miserably failed to provide potable water and health facilities to the people of the province.
Welcoming the provincial budget, PPP’s Surendar Valasai said that it would help development in the province. He said that the province was progressing despite cut in funds by the federal government.
Valasai said that Sindh was the only province in Pakistan where poverty level was low and per-capita income was more than other provinces.
The PPP MPA criticised the federal budget and said that the price hike was imminent in the wake of the federal budget.
He demanded that Thar Institute of Engineering, Science & Technology (TIEST) should be converted into a university. He appreciated the provincial government for allocating Rs1.64bn for this “historic project” in 2021-22.
Deewan Sachanand of the PTI in his post-budget speech was critical of the provincial government for not tabling a bill against forced conversion. “The bill was passed in 2016 and the same was sent to the governor for his assent but he returned to the assembly on the request of the chief minister,” he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said that there were some amendments in the bill and it was in final stage. He assured that the same would be moved in the assembly soon.
PTI lawmaker welcomes increase in health budget
Dr Imran Ali Shah of the PTI welcomed increase in the health budget and suggested that a major amount should be allocated for prevention-related measures rather than treatment.
“Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho is working with good intentions but the department has incompetent officers,” he added.
Dr Shah said that a 25-bed hospital in Lyari could not be completed for the last 10 years, adding that MRI and CT scans were not functional at the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi.
Hina Dastagir of the PPP said that there were 1,072 ongoing schemes in Karachi as the provincial government allocated Rs110bn for the city.
“It was not the PPP but the MQM that made injustices with Karachi,” she added.
Earlier, the house welcomed Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz in the visitors’ gallery.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2021