Amidst clam our and protests by the opposition, the Sindh Government unveiled the provincial budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 with a three-month time frame. With general elections around the corner, the budget comes as a partial appendage to augment the remaining tenure of the departing government.

Similar to the federal budget, the provincial budget hints at a grandeur and largesse that might be well beyond realization. However, the proposal definitely boasts of overtures at sustaining some development programmes, women empowerment and local issues that need to be administered. The more positive and ‘people friendly’ propositions include a heartening 10% percent increase in the salaries and pension of the public sector employees coupled with creation of around 46,000 new jobs. It also extends special provisions for people with limitations including those with physical/ visual/ hearing and speech incapacities. An increase in the bursary for minorities is also proposed.

The proposal also makes the much demanded overture of extending substantial support to the local governments. Its allots a magnanimous number to beefing up security under the premise of fortifying law enforcement agencies, a move that can be held debatable. It also proposes a hike in sales tax on services complimented by Rs.665 billion from the federal divisible pool, where the more equitable proposal would have been to rectify gaps in the existing tax collection system. Where the incumbent provincial government was quick to add that the new government would have an opportunity to bring changes in the budget as per its priorities, allocations for development and non-development expenditures including salaries still extend for the whole financial year in the budget.

Where a magnanimous amount of financing is allotted to annual development programs, an almost equal amount is allocated for ongoing projects in a bid to entrench their viability. Where, as asserted, it will be up to incoming government to make changes to the budget upon being elected, it seems the proposed budget ultimately seeks to curry favour with the masses in its wishful presentation, yet where many issues at the local level have been highlighted and ascribed monetary remediation, larger and more pressing issues of energy, irrigation, environmental degradation boast magnanimous plans that envisage international and local collaboration and funds, with ludicrously optimistic deadlines. Regrettably, no new development schemes for sanitation, water, or solid waste management were proposed. Instead, credence was given to more exorbitant mega schemes and infrastructure projects.

Ultimately, with the controversy overhanging the budget process, and the oppositions vehement anger over the unethical premise of the departing government stepping on the toes of the incoming one at the tail end of its tenure-the budget itself loses much of its intended efficacy.