SINDH became the first province to unveil its budget, six days after the Federal, with an unveiling of its Rs 422 billion budget by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to the Sindh Assembly, with a development component of Rs 115 billion, and the first fruits of the National Finance Award, announced earlier this year, thus became apparent. The increases reflected how the Award made more funds available to the provinces. Sindh increased its expenditure by about 20 percent on the non-development side, and over 50 percent on the development side. However, where there has been an increase in spending, there has also been an increase in taxation. Though Mr Shah claimed that it was a tax-free budget, it not only envisaged an increase of 27 percent in own receipts, a rationalisation of the stamp duty and Rs 40 billion to be collected in sales tax, as well as the collection of the Capital Gains Tax for the first time. Here Mr Shah could announce a reduction. The measures to boost the real estate market seem unlikely to succeed unless there is a change in market forces, for the boom in the market occurred without the measures, as did the ensuing bust. The increase in money that the NFC Award brought has enabled the provincial government to meet the responsibility of raising salaries to the extent the federal government has done. That meant finding Rs 31 billion, which it has done. However, it has also found the Rs 1.8 billion needed to give both a qualification allowance and time scales to the teachers. That was perhaps more necessary for Sindh than other provinces because of the unrest among the teachers there, but this is a measure that deserves emulation, along with the relief afforded by the reduction in the Capital Gains Tax. This budget was presented without the usual complaints against the Centre, but Mr Shah did refer to the CDLs made for SCARP. And Mr Shah said the province had paid Rs 22 billion to the Centre against them. Thus, he identified an issue that will have to be taken up by a future National Finance Commission, that of provincial indebtedness to the Centre.