City Council passes Rs49.6bn KMC budget amid opposition protest

Published June 25, 2024
Opposition members protest in front of the mayor’s rostrum, on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Opposition members protest in front of the mayor’s rostrum, on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Amid a noisy protest by the opposition, the City Council on Monday approved by the majority vote the Rs49.602 billion budget of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for the financial year 2024-25.

As anticipated, the City Council witnessed one of its most rough, noisy and aggressive sessions as the house turned into a fish market with the beginning of the proceeding chaired by Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab.

As the mayor started his budget speech, opposition members associated with the Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf stood up, started yelling, shouting slogans and tore budget documents.

The proceedings took an ugly turn when many opposition members gathered in front of the mayor who kept on reading the budget despite their protest. However, treasury members also stood up to face the opposition members. The situation also led to a brief scuffle between the two sides.

Opposition rejects budget; say there is no new development scheme for Karachi

However, the pandemonium forced the mayor to announce a half-hour break as the proceeding became inaudible amid the noisy protest.

During the break, the opposition members staged a “token sit-in” inside the house.

As the proceedings resumed, the situation was no more different as the opposition’s noisy protest continued.

The protest and aggressive approach of the opposition, however, failed to stop the house proceedings and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party with the support of its allies managed to get passed the budget.

Rs9.16bn for district ADP

According to the budget document, the total income is estimated at Rs49.701bn and the expenditures are estimated at Rs49.602bn.

The current receipts are Rs39.718bn and capital receipts are Rs815.213 million.

A sum of Rs9.168bn has been earmarked for the district annual development programme (ADP).

Establishment expenses, according to the budget, are estimated at Rs27.846bn; contingent expenses at Rs3.176bn; repair and maintenance at Rs424.355m and development projects/works at Rs8.986bn.

Presenting his first budget as the elected mayor, Barrister Wahab emphasised the efforts to provide maximum facilities to citizens at the local level.

Regarding development projects, he mentioned that funds have been allocated under the federal public sector development programme (PSDP) 2024-25with a total cost of Rs10bn for Karachi.

He said Rs103.256m has been allocated for road maintenance and repair, Rs1bn for improvement of sports grounds, Rs111.62m for beautification of parks and Rs8,785.118m for repair and beautification of bridges, flyovers, and underpasses.

For the financial year 2024-25, 162 new schemes under the Provincial ADP are proposed at an estimated cost of Rs5.788bn.

The proposed schemes under the CLICK project for 2024-25 amounts to Rs6.476bn.

These include installation of solar-powered LED street lights on three major roads with five years of maintenance; renovation of Shadab Football Ground in Block 11 Federal B Area; renovation of Baldia Stadium in Baldia Town; construction of IT Park and Centre in Shadman Town; construction of Memon Goth Road in Malir; the road behind Malir Court to Murtaza Chowk; construction of a football and cricket ground in UC 3 Mauripur Keamari, and the construction of a community centre in UC 7 Murad Memon Goth.

No new schemes were included in the next year’s budget and Rs1.2bn provided by the Sindh government will be available this fiscal year, to be spent on development works across the city fairly.

Wahab condemns opposition’s behaviour

Addressing a press conference after the budget session, Mayor Wahab condemned the opposition and accused it of deliberately “sabotaging” the proceedings and setting a negative precedent for future.

Calling it a negative mindset, he said: “These people do not want serious work to be done or improvements to be made. If they had listened to the budget speech, they would have realised how the PPP is solving long-standing issues, including water, in Karachi.”

He said that it seemed that the opposition was held hostage and some people were preventing council members with positive thinking from working.

“The day they acknowledge me as a successful mayor, Jamaat-e-Islami’s politics will end,” he said.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Advocate Saifuddin rejected the budget for the next fiscal and repeated his claims that the mayor neglected their proposals and even denied him to speak during the budget session.

“There is no development scheme for Karachi in this budget. They deceived the house on the issue of Municipal Utility Charges Tax and now they’re pretending to be the champion of democracy while ruining all democratic norms and traditions,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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