KARACHI/ MIRPURKHAS - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he will strengthen the local bodies financially by giving them a substantial share in the provincial finance commission.

He said this while presiding over the second preliminary PFC meeting at Chief Minister’s House on Friday. The meeting was attended by official and non-official members, including Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, MPAs Makhdoom Rafiq and Faisal Sabzwari, Sukkur Mayor Arslan Islam, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput and Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi. The chief minister said that during the current financial year Rs61 billion were given to PFC. "Next year, we will give you more funds to make you effectively functional," he said, and added that the local bodies had to explore more avenues to improve their financial health.  Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi briefed the PFC members about the criteria of the commission. He said that weightage was given to population, backwardness and performance in terms of revenue collection.

The chief minister said that under the PFC award a great slice of funds would go to salaries, pension and other expenditure. "Therefore, the local bodies will be given development funds from the district ADP and other programmes," he said. Presently, Rs4 billion ADP schemes are in progress through KMC, he said.

The chief minister said that district ADP would be executed through local bodies in future. He authorised Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro to hold at least two more meetings during Ramazan to discuss the PFC formula. "When you reach close to consensus, I'll chair another meeting to finalise it," the chief minister said.

At the meeting, formulas of previous PFC Awards were discussed and deliberated. The chief minister said that PFC Award was given for four years and the award the Sindh government was going to announce would be appreciated.

Earlier on Friday, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was given a briefing about the pace of work on an under-construction road by the Works and Services Department in Mirpurkhas.

The chief minister landed at Sindhri Airbase and he was welcomed by lawmakers, Senator Hari Ram Kishori Lal and Mirpurkhas Division Commissioner Shafique Ahmed Mahesar.

The 63-kilometre road from Sindhri to Sanghar is being constructed at the cost of Rs2.5 billion. The project is being financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

On this occasion, the chief minister directed the concerned officers and engineers to speed up the work and complete this project by February 2018. He said that a network of communication infrastructure was being spread in the entire province by the Sindh government. He said that people would soon enjoy the fruits of these development schemes.

The chief minister said that he would not tolerate any delay in construction work and directed the officials to get the projects completed on time. “Why was this project spread over two years when funds were available for it?” the chief minister asked Project Director Prem Talrija.

Talrija told the chief minister that the project was spread over two years keeping in view the international standards. He said that people of Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Thar would benefit from this road project. He said the ADB had provided 91 percent of financing for the road project, while the remaining nine percent had been provided by the Sindh government. He said the project was launched in January 2017.

Later talking to media persons, the chief minister said that with construction of the Sindhri-Sanghar road, people of Mirpurkhas and Sanghar would benefit the most.

In response to a question, he said that he had written a letter to the federal government keeping in view long hours of loadshedding in Ramazan, but the federal government did not have any soft corner for the people of Sindh. He lamented that the federal government had failed to revive the dysfunctional power plants. To hide its failures, he said, the federal government was just making false claims about more power generation in the country. He said that long hours of loadshedding had showed that the federal government could not deliver. The chief minister said the Sindh government had paid 100 percent of its electricity dues. To a question, he said that he had already directed commissioners and deputy commissioners to control the prices of commodities, fruits and vegetables in Ramazan.

Provincial minister Imdad Pitafi, Senator Hari Ram Kishori Lal, Works and Services Secretary Aijaz Memon, Saleem Jalbani of the Public Accounts Committee, Mirpurkhas Division Commissioner Shafique Ahmed Mahesar, Mirpurkhas DIG Javed Alam Odho and SSP Kamran Nawaz were also present.  Earlier, the Sindh chief minister inspected construction work on the highway between Sindhri and Sanghar.