KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday witnessed a calm sitting after a long time as the debate on Rs1.7 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 continued amid a lack of interest from both sides of the aisle with a questionably low attendance of the lawmakers in the house.

The post-budget session entered the third day when as many as 19 members from the treasury and opposition benches delivered their speeches, most of them containing criticism and counter-criticism.

When Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari adjourned the house at around 8:15pm till 11am on Thursday, only 13 members of the Pakistan Peoples Party and eight of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were present in the house that largely wore a deserted look throughout the proceedings that started with a delay of almost an hour.

Most of the ministers and parliamentary leaders of major parties including Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Grand Democratic Alliance, Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal also remained absent.

House wore deserted look throughout proceedings due to lack of interest from both sides of divide

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the finance ministry portfolio, and Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Shaikh, have not so far appeared in the house since the discussion on the budget.

‘A gimmick of figures’

Speaking on the budget, Sadaqat Hussain of the MQM-P termed the budget a gimmick of figures and said Orangi Town was the highest populated area in the city, yet it did not have basic civic facilities such as water supply, sewerage system and schools.

He said that Orangi Town had population of over 2.5 million according to the census, but it did not have basic health facilities as there was no burns ward at any hospital in the vicinity and patients had to be shifted either to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre or Civil Hospital Karachi.

He deplored the shortage of potable water in his constituency and said that water was not being supplied to people in the vicinity despite a high level of water in Hub Dam nowadays.

The MQM-P said that the law and order had become a serious issue in parts of the city and Orangi Town that had become the hub of drugs and narcotics. “Repeated complaints were lodged with the concerned authorities, including police, but to no avail,” he added.

PTI’s Rabia Azfar Nizami mainly focused her budget speech on the education sector saying more than six million children were still out of schools across the province, while nearly 1.7 million children were forced to bonded labour by influential landlords and feudal across the province.

She said a large number of schools were without furniture and other infrastructural facilities including drinking water and toilets.

The PTI lawmaker said that over 100,000 children were forced into begging as there was no effective anti-beggary law in the province.

She also took exception to the child marriages and said that the presentation of CNIC and biometric of intending marrying couples must be made mandatory.

Call to establish girls’ schools in Thar Faqir Sher Muhammad of the PPP welcomed the budget saying that it was the best budget in the given circumstances.

He said that he said that there were 15 union councils in his constituency in Thar which lacked education facilities. He requested the provincial government to establish high schools and girls middle school in the area.

The PPP lawmaker also welcomed a proposed water scheme at Nabisar to supply water to Thar coal field and demanded a reservoir to provide water to over 20 villages in the area.

He also invited the attention of provincial authorities to shanty town sprawling in his constituency and demanded their regularisation.

Besides, the PPP MPA also asked the provincial livestock department to establish vet hospitals in Thar where there were over eight million animals.

PPP’s Heer Soho and Shah Hussain Shah Sheerazi; GDA’s Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Naseem Rajput; PTI’s Jamaluddin Siddiqui, Arsalan Taj, Rabistan Khan and Raja Azhar; and MQM-Ps Adeel Shahzad, Ghulam Jeelani, Muhammad Abbas Jafferi also participated in the post-budget discussion.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022

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