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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that Rs990 billion development projects were at different stages in Karachi and now another allocation of Rs110 billion have been earmarked for new development initiatives.

The rejected people of the city were making a baseless claim that the city has been ignored in terms of allocation for development schemes.

This he said while addressing a post-budget press conference here at the Auditorium of Sindh Assembly. Provincial ministers, advisor law, MPAs, chairperson P&D, Secretary Finance and secretaries of different departments attended the crowded media talk.

The chief minister said that Rs110 billion have been allocated for completion of on-going and launching new development schemes in Karachi. “At present different development schemes of Rs990 billion initiated under ADP, donor agencies, Public Private Partnership were at different stages,” he said and added in the next ADP Rs110 billion have been allocated for the development of the city.

Shah said that at least Rs3000 billion were required for development of Karachi but we didn’t have so much resources even then the PPP government in Sindh has completed and launched major development schemes.

Murad Ali Shah counted a number of schemes, such as widening of Sharea Faisal, Tariq Road, University Road, Madinat-ul-Hikmat Road, Shahrah-e-Quaideen, Hawksbay road, construction of a large number of flyovers, underpasses and various others completed by his government. “What they [MQM] have done who have been the rulers of cities for over two decades,” he questioned.

The chief minister said that he has presented Rs1477.9 billion deficit budget but the deficit of Rs25.73 billion would be covered by curtailing non-development expenditures and may take overdraft from the state bank but would ensure to meet all the expenditures, particularly of the development portfolio.

He said that against a Rs1477.9 billion expenditure/budget the revenue receipts were estimated at Rs1,452.168 billion which showed a deficit of Rs25.73 billion. Now question arises how the shortfall of Rs25.73 billion would be met, he raised the question and replied he would curtail non-development expenditures and may borrow from the banks or take overdraft from the state bank, but he vowed he would utilise development budget to complete record 1009 on-going and new uplift schemes.

Murad Ali Shah said that the federal government had vowed to provide Rs760 billion during the current financial year but so far they have released Rs613 billion which was short by Rs147 billion. “Now the federal government has revised the federal transfers from Rs760 billion to Rs717 billion but even they have to pay Rs104 billion by the end of June 2021,” he said.

Shah said that the federal government has assured that it would give Rs869.68 billion in straight transfers and hopefully this figure would not be revised. During the current financial year, the federal government has allocated Rs62 billion in the head of Oil and Gas Development Surcharge for Sindh but for next financial year they have allocated Rs49 billion which is quite surprising for him.

The chief minister said that the provincial own receipts have been anticipated to be Rs329.319 billion. He added that these funds were made through tax and non tax receipts. The Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) was given a target of Rs125 billion and hopefully the target would be achieved by the end of this month, he said and added for next financial year a Rs125 billion target has been set for SRB.

Talking about Excise & Taxation, Murad Ali Shah said that they were given a target of Rs88 billion and said they would not only achieve their target but exceed it, therefore the Excise & Taxation department has been given a target of Rs120 billion for next financial year.

The CM said that the Board of Revenue (BoR) had a target of Rs36.4 billion but due to heavy rains and natural calamities the provincial government had declared various districts as calamity hit areas and their recoveries were postponed. He said that next year’s collection target of BoR has been kept at Rs30.64 billion.

Talking about non-tax receipts the chief minister said that they have been estimated at Rs24 billion. The provincial government through Home dept to recover Rs24 billion in challans and some other fees, he said and added around Rs71 billion would be received in Foreign-aided projects. He also said that the fed grant for development would be Rs5.3 billion.

Salaries: The chief minister said that non-development expenditures were considered a burden on the exchequer, as a matter of fact these expenditures were essential. He added that the salaries, pensions, funding in pension funds, grants to hospitals, repair and maintenance were part of the non-development budget.

The CM said that 20 percent salaries of government employees have been increased. Minimum wage, despite wide criticism, has been raised from Rs17,500 to Rs25,000, Shah said and added the minimum wage would be ensured to be paid in the private sector.

The CM said that in the government sector the salaries of employees of grade BPS-1 to 5 were less than Rs25,000 and through supplementary grants their salaries would be matched to Minimum wage of Rs25,000.

Shah said that the 57 percent of the provincial budget was spent on salaries and pension and if the employees of other government organisations like local bodies were included the salary bill would be 60 percent of the total budget.

Replying to a question about Bahria Town, the chief minister said that neither Bahria would be allowed to ‘encroach’ beyond the limits the Supreme Court of Pakistan has set/fixed for it nor any person would be allowed to damage any private or government property inside Bahria Town.

“This is a clear message of the provincial government, he said and added the government had registered FIR when Bahria people had attempted to encroach private lands,” he said and added in principle there was no need for any protests. The leaders of the protesting parties had to ensure their protest was peaceful but they failed and now, they have started disassociating themselves from the ransacking in Bahria Town, he added.

To a question about MQM which has rejected the provincial budget, the chief minister said that they [MQM] were themselves rejected by the people and it would make no difference if they had refused to accept the provincial budget.

Shah said that the MQM used to have 20 to 25 seats in the National Assembly but now their numerical strength has reduced to six seats because they brutally failed to deliver. Murad Ali Shah said that the MQM members in the provincial as well as in the National Assembly were being used [by PTI] and I have warned them about being used.

Replying to a question, Murad Ali Shah said that his government has created 2600 new vacancies, apart from them there were around 30,000 positions vacant in the province for which the departments have started giving advertisements.

To a question about shortage of irrigational water, the chief minister said that he had grievances against the federal government which has made the IRSA a hostage. “The IRSA under the pressure of the federal government was unable to perform its main function of ‘distribution of water’ as per 1991 accord. “I don’t have any grievances against Punjab,” he said.

To a question, the CM said that the funds have been allocated to complete all development schemes at Gorakh Hill. “This year, Gorakh Hill will be developed properly,” he said.

Replying to a question, Murad Ali Shah said that the Nooriabad Power project of the Sindh government was working efficiently and providing electricity to Karachi at a rate of Rs10 per unit. “The cheapest electricity it provides is uninterrupted, but this is not acceptable to some people,” he lamented and added that two directors were put in jail and one of them died.

“We are being questioned even for those projects which were contributing to national development but they could not question the BRT project in KP,” he said.

To a question, the CM said that the federal government had asked the Sindh government to accelerate and enhance Covid-19 vaccination drive but when the drive was accelerated the supply line was affected.

He urged the federal government to take necessary action in supplying vaccines to Sindh and the other provinces.

The chief minister, replying to a question, said that he was enjoying a fast asleep because he was working to the best of his abilities and with dedication and honesty but his hard work, delivery and performance has upset the sleeps of various people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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