KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that the budget allocation for development in Karachi was more than Rs 70 billion and Rs 12 billion was only for the mega projects.

Addressing post-budget press conference on Tuesday at Sindh Assembly along with provincial ministers Nasir Hussain Shah, Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani and Mukesh Kumar Chawla, the chief minister said that under the NFC award, the provincial government had also demanded a special package for Karachi from federal government.

“We have allocated Rs 15 billion for K-IV project and more Rs 5 billion for its land allocation, Rs 3 billon for S-III and for other amount for Bus Rapid Transport Systems in the metropolis,” he said.

The chief minister said that the provincial government had launched a massive project to improve road network from Metropole at Shahra-e-Faisal to Thatta.

“This is divided in phases and from metropole to stargate, construction is carried out by provincial government, from stargate to Quaidabad, KMC is undertaking a project for which all releases are made, from Quaidabad to the Steel Mill, JICA is undertaking the project and from then onwards to Ghaggar Phatak and then to Thatta in the form of dual carriage way, the provincial government in collaboration with FWO is laying down a road network,” he said.

Shah said that no one was expecting the Karachi mega schemes to be competed in a year and even the contractors were hesitant to do so but with the support of departments and commitment of the provincial government and early approval of projects, these projects are near their completion.

DEVELOPMENT BUDGET EXPENDITURE

He further claimed that the government had improved its budget spending and Rs 150 billion were spent up till now from the released amount of Rs 210 billion. “By the end of this fiscal year, this spending will reach upto Rs 190 billion,” he said adding that the development expenditure was Rs 118 billion last year and had improved drastically.

He further said that the government is committed to ensure transparency in its expenditure and also explained its shortcomings and will ensure that their leadership commitment towards expenditure for fulfilling party manifesto will be achieved.

He further said that they had only added 41 road schemes in the budget with full allocation of Rs 26 billion so that he projects are completed on time.

AUSTERITY MEASURES

He said that provincial government is taking austerity steps in order to lower the spending of the chief minister house from allocated amount of Rs 2.1 billion for the outgoing year to just above Rs 700 million.

“For next fiscal year, we have further cut short this amount to Rs 552 million,” he said adding that similar steps would be taken by the other departments also in order to spend more on development projects.

TAXES

The chief minister denied imposing any new taxes in the budget and said that instead they had just transferred the authority of property tax collection from excise department to DMCs in order to improve this collection.

“India’s Bangalore despite being small as compared to Karachi collects around Rs 60 billion property tax as compared to Karachi’s Rs 1.7 billion therefore the Mayor Karachi has been asked to increase his capacity to collect this tax,” he said.

NFC

Speaking on injustices of the federal government, the chief minister said that NFC is a failure of the federal government and he had raised the issue of transferring sales tax on services to the provincial governments and announcing a special package for Karachi that owns a huge contribution in federal budget.

“We are still short of Rs 68 billion from the promised amount under NFC and by the fiscal year end, this amount will be Rs 108 billion and the federal government is unlikely to act on its commitment to provide this amount,” he said adding that provincial budget spending would likely to affect from non availability of this amount.

He further said that the provincial government was also committed to announce provincial finance commission and a sub committee was formed after a meeting with all stake holders in order to announce this award soon. “Other than this, we are also providing Rs 71 billion to local councils for the development projects,” he said.

ELECTRICITY

Responding to a query regarding K-Electric, the chief minister said that it had failed them and unfortunately they had no say in the KE Board of directors which has the two representatives from federal government but no representation for the concerned provincial government.

“The Hesco and Sepco are performing worst and despite clearing all of their bills of Rs 27 billion, there is no respite for the consumers in the province,” he said. He said that the federal government was treating the province like stepmother and if their claims of highest production are true then where all of this electricity is going. “It means that either their claims are wrong or they are doing injustice by not providing sufficient electricity intentionally to the province,” he said.

He further said that the similar situation is with the provision of gas and it is our constitutional right to have access to gas as they produced 70 percent for the country’s requirements. “We have conveyed it to the federal government that if this situation does not improve then they will be unable to control the people’s anger,” he said.

HUMAN RESOURCE

Murad Ali Shah admitted that the province faces severe shortage of competent human resource at top level and during his visits he had realised that either competent engineers had gone abroad or they had lost interest in their activities after being sidelined in their departments.

“We have initiated this process to identify the better work force and improve work capacity of the officers,” he said adding that there were some junior level officers who had a great potential to work but could not be appointed due to court orders regarding OPS.

He further admitted that situation in health and education sector was deteriorating despite excess spending and said that it was due to years of negligence but the provincial government is now committed to improve the situation.

“A large sum of the budget that is Rs 200 billion for education and Rs 100 billion for health is being earmarked for improvement in these departments,” Shah said.

“The situation in hospitals had improved as the health minister is regularly visiting different hospitals and even the situation at Sehwan taluqa hospital at the time of blast was better and except shortage of doctors, the medical facilities and medicines were enough to cope with the situation,’ he said.

He further said that 5400 doctors would be hired in order to overcome this shortage.