Karachi - Pakistan People’s Party led Sindh government on Thursday unveiled its sixth and last budget of the expiring tenure with a total outlay of Rs1.14 trillion and Rs20.45 billion deficit.

The budget comprised estimates for the whole year but Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced that they would authorise only its part pertaining to first quarter of Fiscal 2018-19.

The opposition parties however were not satisfied with the government figures and staged protest during budget presentation.

Heated argument between the chief minister and opposition members was also witnessed over remarks against PPP leadership during protest.

Lawmakers from MQM-P, PTI, PML-N and PML-F gathered in front of speaker’s dais and raised slogans over alleged corruption by the government. Those MQM-P lawmakers who have defected to PSP refrained from joining the protest.

The chief minister, who himself warned opposition against maligning their leadership by saying that they will even lay their lives for their leadership, later took to calming down the nerves of his own party colleagues.

“Let them [opposition] make noise as they will not come return to this assembly and even if some of them are re-elected [to the House], they would just keep making fuss about nothing,” he told them.

Murad, who also holds the portfolio of the finance minister, claimed in his budget speech that they had achieved all goals set for the five years of their government.

“I will not be authorising a Finance Bill for [the entire fiscal year] 2018-19,” he said, clarifying that he will authorise revenue and expenditure estimates for only first three months – from July 1 to Sept 30 – of the next financial year.

The CM said that despite having the mandate to present and get approved the budget for the whole financial year, they would leave it to the next government to decide its budget priorities after assuming power.

Murad Ali Shah said that this budget was the second in a row from the PPP government which is tax free, welfare oriented and progressive.

The budget session was chaired by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and was witnessed by the US Counsel General, secretaries and officials of the provincial government from the assembly galleries.

Giving details of the budget, the chief minister said that estimates of receipts were set at Rs1.124 trillion, which is 8.5 percent higher than the outgoing year.

The expenditure estimate was set at Rs 1.14 trillion, 8.8 percent higher than previous, showing a budget deficit of around Rs20.45 billion for next financial year.

An increase of 10 percent in the salaries of Sindh government employees and pensioners on their basic pay was announced.

The CM said that the receipts from federal government on account of revenue assignment, straight transfer and grants are estimated at Rs665.1 billion. These receipts are 59.2 percent of the total receipts of the province, he added.

The chief minister said that the federal government had already slashed their allocation from PSDP to Rs20 billion from Rs27 billion for the outgoing fiscal year and now it had been further reduced to Rs15 billion for the next year.

“This was the reason the three provinces [except Punjab] walked out of the recently held NEC meeting,” he said.

Murad said that the receipts on account of Foreign Project Assistance, budgetary support loans and grants are estimated at Rs46.9 billion. Receipts from province’s own sources including tax and non-tax receipts are estimated at Rs243 billion.

“This year we would collect Rs197 billion from provincial taxes as compared to the previous year’s target of Rs199 billion,” he said.

On the expenditure side, the outlay of budget is estimated at Rs1.14 trillion including Current Revenue Expenditure of Rs773.2 billion and Current Capital Expenditure of Rs800.3 billion, the CM said. For next financial year Current Expenditure constitutes 69.9 percent of the total provincial budget, he added.

Murad Ali said that the total uplift budget for 2018-19 was set at Rs343.90 billion of which Rs282 billion will be funded from provincial budget and Rs46.894 billion from Foreign Projects Assistance (FPA) while Rs15.02 billion will be provided by Federal Government for PSDP schemes.

He said that law and order consumes third most of the provincial budget but it is on the top priority of the government and it was due to their all out efforts that after a major attack on Sehwan shrine early last year, there was no major terror attack in the province for last one year.

The chief minister admitted that street crime has increased but said that the law enforcing authorities would soon curb it.

He said that they have planned to revamp CTD, enhance martyrs compensation, creation of security posts for safeguarding CPEC project and allocate funds for not only the Sindh police but also for FC and Rangers in the budget for infrastructure building.

Expressing his desire for quality education, Murad Shah said the non-development budget of education has been increased from Rs178.70 billion to a total of Rs205.739 billion in next financial year 2018-19.

Giving details of development side, he said that Rs.24.4 billion are allocated in ADP 2018-19 for 309 ongoing schemes only, whereas new schemes of education sector would be accommodated under the provision of Rs50 billion earmarked separately as ‘Block Allocation’ for new schemes for all sectors in ADP 2018-19.

Taking credit of higher expenditure on health sector in the province, Murad Ali Shah said that the government has engaged private sector for operation and management of health facilities at primary and secondary levels. He also announced 13 percent increase in the health budget to be set at Rs96.38 billion for next fiscal year.

Detailing allocations for women schemes, he said that Sales and Display Resource Centre, construction of women club, establishment of women complex, improvement of livelihood and well-being of Female Home Based Workers, imparting driving training for women and other projects are included in the budget for women empowerment.

For minorities, the chief minister said that they were increasing their grant from Rs500 million in current year 2017-18 to Rs750 million for the next fiscal, which is to be used for financial assistance, medical treatment, scholarships and repair/renovation of religious places of minorities.

 

 

Sindh unveils Rs1.14 trillion deficit budget

 

Abdullah Zafar