Amid opposition protest, Sindh Assembly passes Rs1.47tr budget in 20 minutes

Published June 26, 2021
The budget was passed in 20-minute proceedings after the house hurriedly approved all 72 demands for grants on supplementary expenditure for 2020-21 and 154 demands for FY 2021-22. — White Star/File
The budget was passed in 20-minute proceedings after the house hurriedly approved all 72 demands for grants on supplementary expenditure for 2020-21 and 154 demands for FY 2021-22. — White Star/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday quickly passed the Rs1.47 trillion tax-free budget for financial year 2021-22 with a majority vote amid opposition protest as neither the leader of the house and ministers nor opposition leaders and parliamentary leaders of some parties spoke on the budget.

The budget was passed in 20-minute proceedings after the house hurriedly approved all 72 demands for grants on supplementary expenditure for 2020-21 and 154 demands for FY 2021-22 moved by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of finance.

Like the previous year when the budget was passed within 30 minutes, no cut motions were moved by any of the opposition parties to discuss the supplementary expenditures of current and next financial years revised by the provincial government.

Only three opposition members were present in the house when proceedings started at 10.17am with recitation of Quran and naat. No one from the two sides of the aisle rose to ask for offering prayers (dua).

The opposition members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) rushed to the house, while Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani asked the chief minister to present the supplementary budget.

The house approves all demands for grants as opposition moves no cut motions

The protesting opposition members gathered in front of the rostrum of the speaker and chanted slogans against the provincial government.

The speaker said that he had held meeting with all parties to ensure smooth proceedings.

“We wanted to focus on the budget. The opposition was also given opportunity to submit cut motions but no one seemed interested,” he added.

Speaker Durrani said that he had also allowed Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Sheikh to speak but he opted to protest instead. “In this situation, we have no other option but to pass the budget,” the speaker said, before giving the floor to the chief minister.

The MQM-P, which had staged a strong protest against the provincial government for ‘neglecting’ urban parts of the province in the budget, continued their protest on Friday.

Budget details

According to the budget books, the total outlay of provincial expenditure is Rs1,477.904 billion for the next financial year, 2021-22, which is 19 per cent higher than the budget for FY 2020-21.

This includes Rs1,089.372bn for current revenue expenditure, 12pc higher than budget 2020-21, including a pro-poor social protection and economic sustainability package of Rs30.9bn; Rs59.498bn for current capital expenditure with an increase of 51pc of the current financial year’s budget.

The development expenditure for FY 2021-22 is Rs329.033bn, which is 41pc higher than FY 2020-21.

The development expenditure includes Rs222.500bn (44pc higher than FY 2020-21) for provincial annual development programme (ADP), Rs30bn (100pc higher than 2020-21) for district ADP, Rs71.164bn for foreign project assistance and Rs5.369bn for other federal grants.

The supplementary budget of Rs95.345bn for FY 2020-21 was also passed by the assembly.

The total receipts of the province have been estimated at Rs1,452.168bn, including Rs869.680bn from federal transfers, Rs329.318bn from provincial receipts, Rs50.1bn from current capital receipts and Rs86.068bn from other receipts.

Overall, there is a deficit of Rs25.735bn in Budget 2021-22, which is to be met as per revised estimates during the year.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2021

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