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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah Tuesday said the province which contributes 70 percent to Pakistan’s revenue is rewarded pittance when compared to the schemes offered to other provinces.

This he said while addressing a press conference at the CM House. He was accompanied by his Senior Advisor Nisar Khuhro and Information Minister Nasir Shah.

Murad said that the National Economic Council was a 13-member constitutional body that had eight members from the provinces and five from the federal government, including Chairman - the Prime Minister.

Talking about the functions of the NEC, he said “it includes review of the overall economic condition of the country and advise the federal and the provincial governments to formulate plans in respect of financial, commercial, social and economic policies - the NEC has to ensure balanced development and regional equity.

“Ever since, the PTI government has come into power [in the center], it has been treating Sindh with abject bias and discrimination,” Murad Ali Shah said and added that in 2017-18 there were 27 schemes in the PSDP with an allocation of Rs27.38 billion. In 2018-19 the number of schemes was reduced to 22 with an allocation of Rs14.26 billion. In 2019-20 again the schemes were reduced to 13 along with an allocation of Rs8.5 billion. In 2020-21 the number of schemes dropped down to six [schemes] with an allocation of Rs8.3 billion. In 2021-22 only six schemes were proposed with an allocation of Rs5 billion. “A grave injustice is being meted out to the people of Sindh ever since the PTI [federal] government has come into power in August 2018.

NHA: Talking about National Highway Authority (NHA) schemes, the chief minister pointed out a glaring injustice with people of Sindh. He said that it has launched 22 schemes for Punjab with an estimated cost of Rs824.55 billion against which an allocation of Rs32.151 billion has been proposed for 2021-22. Whereas, he said, the NHA has only two schemes of Rs46.79 billion for Sindh against which Rs7.1 billion have been proposed for 2021-22. He added that KP and FATA have been given 21 of Rs535. 26 billion with a proposed allocation of Rs41. 25 billion for 2021-22. Balochistan has been given 15 schemes of Rs355. 47 billion and an allocation of Rs24.1 billion have been proposed for next financial year.

Shah said that the difference between the number of schemes given for Sindh as opposed to the other provinces was quite painful. He said that the Sehwan Jamshoro Road of Rs. 14 billion of which 50 percent has been shared by the Sindh government back in April 2017 but still the road has not been completed, as a result fatal accidents were taking place every day for which he held the Federal Government responsible.

The CM said that the second scheme was for land acquisition for Karachi-Lahore Motorway. “Again, it is astonishing that the Lahore to Sukkur section of this project has been undertaken through assured funds under PSDP and the work on Sukkur to Hyderabad section has not been started yet and top of it has been proposed under the Public Private Partnership mode.

Finance Division: The Finance Division executes its schemes through respective provincial governments, he said and added that for the next financial years, 2021-22 the Finance Division has given 14 schemes of RS86.6 billion to Punjab against which Rs15.06 allocation has been proposed for 2021-22. The Sindh government has been given only two schemes of Rs4.8 billion with a proposed allocation of RS1.5 1 billion for 2021-22. KP & FATA has been given 10 schemes of Rs86. 7 billion and allocation of Rs66.78 billion has been proposed for the year 2021-22. Balochistan has been given 28 schemes of Rs144.49 billion against which Rs18 billion have been allocated for 202-1-22.

Most of these schemes are of provincial roads, being executed by the provincial government with funding from the federal government, he said and added “out of the 11 new projects given to Punjab [by the Finance Division] 10 are of provincial roads with a cost of Rs. 71.699 billion and the allocation for next financial year has been proposed at Rs.12. 461 billion. The Provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been given new schemes in the Finance Division but Sindh has been ignored.

He disclosed that the two ongoing schemes in Sindh were approved during the tenure of PML-N government and no new scheme in the Finance Division has been given to Sindh during the tenure of the PTI federal government.

Housing Division: The Housing and Works Division during 2020-21 launched 14 schemes of Rs29.29 billion with an allocation of RS3.7 billion in Punjab, 18 schemes of Rs11.46 billion with an allocation of Rs8 billion in Sindh.

The Housing & Works Division is responsible for construction of federal government buildings in the federal capital and in the provinces through the Pak PWD, Murad Ali Shah said and added “the Housing Division portfolio showed that it was constructing bridges on rivers and roads in Punjab and Balochistan.” In Sindh the schemes assigned to them were those which were previously reflected in the PSDP 2020-21, he said and added that in previous NEC meetings he had raised objections to these Union Council based schemes launched in Sindh under federal PSDP.

He said that the federal government had committed to complete these schemes within a year and had an allocation of Rs. 9.9 billion in 2020-21. As a matter of fact, only Rs500 million were released. He added that the federal government was supposed to consult with the provincial government before launching such schemes but neither was he consulted nor the schemes were being executed through the provincial government. Therefore, the quality of the schemes has been reported to be sub-standard.

Planning Division: The chief minister said that the Planning & Development Division in the proposed PSDP 2021-22 has eight schemes of RS44.5 billion with an allocation of Rs10.29 billion for Sindh. It has not given any scheme to other provinces.

He said that the Planning Division has no system or staff to execute projects. In Sindh, they have been given a large allocation to execute projects through Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited, he said and added last year these projects were shown under the Cabinet Division.

He said that he had objected to the `East India Company’ intervention in Sindh last year. He recalled that the unplanned execution of the Green Line project played havoc during the heavy rains last year.

Water Resources Division: The chief minister said that the Water Resource Division has allocated Rs26.6 billion for K-IV but he expressed his apprehensions that the federal government would not spend the allocated amount as a result people of this city would suffer further.

Bahria Town: Replying to a question about filing a case of discrimination against federal government in the court, Murad Ali Shah said that he had not consulted with his legal team. “But, we won't go to court,” he said and added people of the province would punish the PTI by rejecting them in the next election.

To a question the chief minister said that the Supreme Court had regularised Bahria Town as it had Banigala. “I am surprised that the federal government has filed a claim on the money being recovered from Bahria Town but “we would never allow that,” he said.

Replying to a question about destruction caused by miscreants at Bahria Town, Murad Ali Shah said that some parties had planned to stage a peaceful protest against Bahria Town for its ‘expansion’ or encroachment on private lands. He added that provincial minister Syed Nasir Shah had negotiated with the protesting parties and had got their assurance that the protest would be peaceful and flow of traffic on the Motorway would not disturbed.

The protest, as promised, went peaceful but some miscreants managed to enter Bahria Town and started ransacking and set the entrance and other parts of the scheme on fire. “We are conducting an inquiry as to how the miscreants managed to enter the premises and started ransacking,” he said and added the inquiry would also determine the facilitators who got them inside the Bahria Town and allowed them to take law in their hands. He also said that the police have obtained complete footage of the incident and through the footage it would be determined which chemical was used to put the structures on fire and who had given them the chemical,” he said.

The CM told the media that 11 FIRs have been registered against the outlaws.

He recalled that a month ago some people had started encroachments on the private lands located along Bahria Town. “We have also registered cases against them,” he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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