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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday presented in Sindh Assembly Rs 1.71 trillion budget, which shows a deficit of Rs 33.85 billion, for the fiscal year 2022-23 amid a noisy protest by the opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators during house’s proceedings.

The total budget outlay for FY23 is estimated at Rs1.714 trillion, as against budget estimate of Rs1.478 trillion for FY22, showing an overall increase of 15.9 percent. The total receipts of province for FY23 are estimated at Rs1.680 trillion as against budget estimates of Rs.1.452 trillion for this fiscal year, depicting an overall rise of 15.7 percent. Thus, Rs1.714 trillion of expenditures and Rs1.68 trillion of receipts make it Rs33.849 billion of a deficit budget.

“The recent wave of fuel price hikes and resultant wave of inflation will direly affect common man,” Murad told the house while presenting the budget and proposed scores of relief and welfare measures to help the public cope with the soaring inflation. “A pro-poor relief package of Rs26.850 billion is being launched in this budget,” he said that the government plans to reduce taxes as this budget proposes “no new taxes”.

He also proposed a levy exemption on Sindh Infrastructure Development Cess for the export-oriented units to scale down the business cost in the province. “For the second consecutive year, we [the Sindh government] are not proposing any new tax,” he said that a special moratorium is earmarked as a relief step on the collection of a cotton fee, professional tax and entertainment duty.

Sindh budget today

The Sindh government has set up an Artist Endowment Fund to provide the artists community with a financial assistance for a medical treatment, daughter’s marriage and underpin their general welfare. Besides, the government will also grant a monthly stipend to needy artists, writers and poets, he said that a wheat subsidy of Rs23.324 billion is proposed in the Sindh financial plan 2022-23 to address the food insecurity.

Proposing a wheat support price of Rs2, 200 per 40 kilograms, which is “highest” in a comparison to three other provinces, he said that the initiative is aimed to provide the farmers with a financial relief with also a Rs3 billion of subsidy on seeds, fertilizers and pesticide.

He also proposed an exempt of Sindh Services Tax (SST) for the toll manufacturing services cutting its rate by 5 percent for “Recruiting Agents”, which will continue for the next two years until June 30, 2024. “This relief is proposed for Pakistanis aspiring to work overseas,” he said.

A cut by 10 percent in the levy on services of cable TV operators will continue for the next two years that will end on June 30, 2024. However, the Sindh fiscal budget exempts the cable TV operators in the rural areas under Pemra license of “R” category from the SST till June 30, 2023.

Slashing the SST rate by 5 percent to 8 percent on commission charges received by the food delivery chains (Foodpanda, Cheetay Logistics, etc) from home chefs, Murad proposed the tax concession for two years ending on June 30, 2024.

The SST on the services provided or rendered by the commission agents will continue at a rate of 13 percent, which he called a “relief” to encourage the small-scale businesses. The existing exemption on health insurance services will also stay for one more year until June 30, 2023. Chief Minister Sindh also proposed a conditional exemption in the sales tax on services for the GIZ - German development agency.

The Sindh fiscal budget projects the current expenditure at Rs1.254 trillion, which includes current revenue expenditure of Rs1.199 trillion and the current capital expenditure of Rs54.5 billion.

This is 73.2 percent of total expenditure of the province and shows an increase of 9.1 percent in comparison to the current expenditure of Rs1.148 trillion for the last fiscal year.

Receipts from the federal government on account of revenue assignment, straight transfers and grants are estimated at Rs1, 055.535 billion for the next FY, which constitute 62.8 percent of total receipts of the province. It is an increase of 21.4 percent over the budget estimates of Rs. 869.680 billion last year. The Receipts of Federal PSDP are estimated at Rs. 6.025 billion for next year.

Receipts on account of Foreign Project Assistance (FPA), budgetary support loans and grants are estimated at Rs144.543 billion. Receipts from provincial own sources on account of tax and non-tax receipts are estimated at Rs374.5 billion.

The Chief Minister Sindh proposed an Ad hoc Relief Allowance of 15 percent for the basic pay scales to the Sindh civil servants, besides a five percent increase of the net pension for the government pensioners from July 1, 2022.

A 33 percent Disparity Allowance of the basic pay will be paid to the civil servants in BPS-1 to 16 and 30 percent to BPS17 and higher in lieu of the differential rate of Ad-hoc Relief Allowances 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, which are being abolished from July 1, 2022, he said.

He announced that the Ad hoc Relief Allowances for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 at the rates admissible to employees of the federal government are being merged and Revised Basic Pay Scale 2022 for the civil servants of the Sindh government is being introduced on the pattern of the federal government.

For agriculture sector, he said that Rs16.652 billion is earmarked for the next the FY 2022-23 to meet the challenge of climate change. There are uplift projects include: Transforming Indus Basin with climate resilient agriculture and Sindh Water and Agriculture Transforming (SWAT) projects with technical and financial assistance of World Bank will be implemented in next financial year.

In line with the Program, 12,788 acres of salinity affected soil in the Left Bank Water Board areas of Sindh will be reclaimed, Center of Excellence for salinity and reclamation research will be established at Tando Jam, 784 watercourses will be improved, 1,258 agriculture implements will be provided to growers on a 50 percent subsidy, 200 laser land leveling equipment will be procured.

The Sindh government allocates Rs224.675 billion for the financial year 2022-23 for the water and sewerage sector with two schemes for the metropolis including the re-settlement of victims of Gujjar, Mahmoodabad and Orangi Nullahs at Rs9.423 billion and Greater Karachi Bulk Water Scheme K-IV Augmentation works at a cost Rs511.724 billion. Keeping in view the “extended” operations of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), Murad said that the budget proposes Rs12 billion for the next financial year 2022-23.

For the next financial year 2022-23, the budget allocates Rs15.435 billion for the Social Protection Department is earmarked, he said that scores of social programs are being initiated the betterment of wellbeing and welfare of senior citizens, orphans and the poor.

The program allocates a grant of Rs15 billion for Sindh Peoples Support Program, grant of Rs2 billion for Poverty Alleviation Program for Small Businesses, loans in urban areas, grant of Rs3 billion for Poverty Alleviation Program for small farmers, loans in rural areas (community based), grant of Rs500 million for revamping Old Age Home at a district level in Sindh and grant of Rs500 million for revamping, establishment of orphanage, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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