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ISLAMABAD: A visibly furious Asad Umar, the minister for planning and development, declared on Sunday that the federal government would spend on ‘people of Sindh and not on the Sindh provincial government’.

Responding to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah's complaints that federal government has not allotted enough funds for the uplift of Sindh, Umar said: “I think the chief minister is confused as he’s unable to distinguish between people of Sindh and Sindh government”. He came down hard on the chief minister and said that uplift funds given to the Sindh government in past "resulted in building palaces, diamond necklaces being discovered in Switzerland and building towers in Dubai, and assets being accumulated in France".

"The people of Sindh know of what I speak, whether it is citizens living in the urban areas or in villages. The rest of Pakistan, on the other hand, may not even know how poorly developed Sindh is," said Umar.

Umar reminded everyone that PM Imran Khan had announced, within a year of coming into power, not one but two "historic" development packages which cover urban areas as well as rural areas, extending to 18 districts.

The federation, through Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, through the Public Private Partnership Authority, and with the help of other federal government institutions that are spending out of their own budget, will spend more than Rs1000 billion on Sindh over the course of three years, he said.

Umar listed the following major projects undertaken by PTI-led federal government after coming into power in 2018: K-IV water project, work on nullahs in Mehmoodabad, Orangi, Gujjar Nala, Green line transport project - to be completed by September next year, over Rs6.5 billion for Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO) which provides power to Northern Sindh, over Rs5 billion set aside for Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) which provides power to Southern Sindh, except for Karachi, Reni Canal and Nai Gaj Canal, small dams, and allocation of over 8 billion allocated for Sindh universities.

Speaking of the criticism levelled by Shah against the neglect of motorway projects, especially those by National Highway Authority, Umar said he was stunned to read about the same.

"It would have been better for his party had he not mentioned any of this," he lamented.

Umar said that when the PTI came into power, work on the Multan-Sukkur motorway had already begun and it was this government that finished the project, after investing Rs98bn into it "so that the province can have its first real motorway project".

Moving on to the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway project, he said that the Public Private Partnership Authority board has accorded approval, as have Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) last week. It is headed towards bidding which will soon be completed.

Umar said that the federal government will invest a "very generous amount" of more than Rs200bn for its completion, adding, combined the two projects mean an investment of Rs300bn on the first motorways in Sindh's history.

"Now I ask the chief minister that your party has ruled over the province six times and has ruled over the country for four times. More than 50 years have passed since it first secured power. But I wish to tell the people of Sindh that they [PPP] did not spend a single rupee since that time on any motorway project,” he stated.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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