KARACHI: The provincial finance department (PFD), on the instruction of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, has released Rs32.4 billion for the completion of on-going development schemes in the province and it has already released Rs6007.609 million to local bodies against monthly OZT share and grant-in-aid.
"Sindh is the only province in the country that has released its budget in the first week of the new financial year, 2021-22," this was stated by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a statement issued here from CM House on Monday. Shah said that the Octroi Zila Tax (OZT) was abolished in the year 1999, and in lieu of abolished Zila tax, the federal government released funds through regular fiscal transfers at 2.5 percent of OZT.
"The share is low as compared to the municipal responsibilities of local councils," he said and added, "Upon abolishing of OZT by the federal government and low receipts being received by Sindh Province in lieu of OZT, Sindh government is continuously supporting all local councils in the province."
The CM said that keeping in view its commitment to keep the councils financially viable the Sindh government has been releasing monthly OZT share to all local council in the province according to the PFC award held in 2007 and subsequently as per tentative distribution approved by the government since 2016, which was, then, further enhanced at a rate of 15 percent during the financial year 2017-18.
According to the chief minister, the administrative structure of local councils in Sindh consists of seven District Municipal Corporations, twenty-four District Councils, one Metropolitan Corporation, three Municipal Corporations - Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana, 39 Municipal Committees, 147 Town Committees, and 1526 Union Councils / Union Committees. He said that the Sindh government, despite low receipts from the federal government, was consistently releasing sufficient funds to all local councils in order to cater their financial and operational needs against budgetary allocation of Rs78 billion for the financial year 2020-21.
"The government has further enhanced the share by 15 percent for the financial year 2021-22 and accordingly earmarked Rs82 billion for the current financial year 2021-22 for the salaries / pension of employees of local councils with effect from July 2021," he said and added that the Karachi Division was particularly under the focus of the Sindh government.
He said that the Karachi Division has nine major councils and 247 UCs, they include KMC, Karachi District 6 Council, seven DMCs and 247 union councils/ committees. The CM said that with the revised OZT share as of July 2021, KMC share has been increased by Rs1,178.280 million annually, the share of seven DMCs of Karachi has been increased to Rs13,015.836 million from Rs12,135.73 million annually, and District Council Karachi has been increased to Rs1,655.592 million from Rs1603.056 million.
"Thus, total OZT share of Karachi Division has been enhanced from Rs25,457.08 million to Rs27,568.00 million per annum other than Rs1,482.00 million per annum to the Union Councils / Union Committee of Karachi Division," he said.
Murad Ali Shah said that in the first week of July 2021 Sindh local government board has been released Rs65 million as monthly share, DMCs, MCs Rs3058.026 million, SSWMB Rs69.066 million, regular grants to District Councils Rs541.636 million, KMC Rs1,071.381 million, including Rs208.219 million OZT, Rs263.162 million for pensions and Rs600 million Grant-in-Aid, union councils/committees Rs763 million, KDA Rs204 million and DMC/MC/TC Rs235.5 million.
Shah said that 83 percent of the property tax collected by the Sindh government was also transferred to the concerned local councils. "The property tax of Karachi during 2020-21 was Rs1,603.729 million, 83 percent of which: Rs1,331 million was also transferred to the Local Councils of the city," he concluded.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021