THE new fiscal year was about to begin. Unlike today when only the federal and provincial governments’ budget announcements are highlighted in the press, civic bodies such as the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC), too, were given due importance in order to underline how they planned to use their financial resources.

So, on June 23, 1971 the KMC administrator, Abrar Hasan Khan, presented a budget showing a deficit of Rs23 lakhs for the fiscal year 1971-72. To bridge the gap between the estimated total expenditure and the estimated receipts, no new tax had been proposed. The administrator instead was determined to make up for the deficit of the recoveries of long due arrears. In his speech he claimed recoveries from the government and other departments had created a new record with a collection of Rs90 lakhs. In the coming year, more emphasis would be laid on the recovery of arrears. Mr Khan pointed out that attention was given to providing citizens with a better sewerage system, more playgrounds, recreational centres, primary schools, hospitals, building of roads and maintaining the old ones. He added, for the new neighbourhoods of PECHS, KCHSU and Drigh area, the KMC had already spent Rs24 lakhs and proposed to spend Rs1.25 crores during the next year.

The following day, on June 24 that is, a ‘balanced’ budget was presented by the administrator of the Landhi-Korangi Municipal Committee (LKMC), Zahooruddin Ahmed, showing an income of Rs1,72,83,800 and an expenditure of Rs1,72,83,657. Giving details of it at a press conference at the council hall of the municipality, he said no new tax was proposed for the zone. He also emphasised that in the coming 12 months, the municipality would devote its energies and resources for the development of the entire area and there would be more focus on education, road building, health, electricity and recreation facilities.

Although women’s empowerment is thought to be a movement that’s not very old in our country, those were the days when the impact of budget allocations made by the government on housewives was given decent space in the newspapers. On June 27, it was reported that housewives had welcomed the exemption of import duty wholly or partly on baby foods, hosiery, needles, eggs, milk, butter and ghee under the new budget. Recently, the prices of baby foods and condensed milk had gone up. Another piece of welcome news for the housewives was the exemption of sales tax on eatables, whether made locally or imported, such as bread, bun, naan, fresh cream, butter, ghee, fruit, vegetables and meat etc.

From the economic to the artistic facet of Karachi: on June 23 a review in Dawn of master artist Mansur Aye’s exhibition showered high praise on his creative prowess. The reviewer wrote, “Mansur Aye is still fond of the round face and big blue eyes but his new canvases have now fireworks of colours light, transparent and occasionally thick. His current one-man show at the Pakistan Art Gallery displaying 38 oils has many pleasant surprises which are aesthetically satisfying. Aye uses colour with an abandon revealing strong traces of commercial art and a whole new chemistry of pigments.”

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021

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