KARACHI - The Sindh Assembly Wednesday once again witnessed heated debate between the treasury and opposition benches over the proposed budget 2017-18.

Opposition Leader Khwaja Izharul Hassan delivered his budget speech and said that the budget had no relief for the masses and was only a copy paste of previous year budget.

He also demanded of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of government interference and lack of cooperation in running the local government affairs.

“There are two mayors in Karachi one is an elected and other one is who wanted to become the mayor. The chief minister does not require to visit different parts of the city and review the local uplift projects instead it is the mayor who is responsible for it but the provincial government is not ready to either devolve powers or provide funds to elected mayor,” he added.

He said that out of 411 uplift projects worth Rs 99 billion under local government department, only 10 of them could be completed by June 2017.

He further said that excess amounts were spending on the uplift projects in Karachi than the estimates and the funds were looted in the name of uplift projects for Karachiites.

This is not a government instead it is cruelty that mayor is even deprived of even transfer and posting powers, he said adding that they had moved courts for the LG powers and would now not ask for them and instead would snatch them.

“We did not present our shadow budget for the first time due to non implementation on our shadow budgets in previous years,” he said.

Izhar said that he reject this budget on three points, first this budget is copy paste of budget 2016-17, two it had raised the rural and urban divide and third there is not even a single rupee benefit for common man in it.

He said that government claims it as a tax free budget instead it had hidden taxes of Rs 26 billion.

“Rs 12 trillion is being spent on local bodies in last years in the province but no change on ground could be seen after this expenditure,” he said adding that a MNA was given a grant of Rs 8.5 million but an MQM MNA who was injured in an armed attack was given nothing.

Similarly a journalist was given a hefty amount but the others were neglected, he claimed.

He said that they admit their mistake that their reconciliation with PPP was a grave mistake and would not repeat that mistake again.

He said that price hike has reached its peak and in such scenario how a labourer with Rs 15,000 minimum wage would run his household. He demanded of the authorities to increase it to Rs 20,000. 

Speaking on it, MQM lawmaker Faisal Subzwari said that it was unconstitutional to not give powers to the local bodies representatives and these councils do not come under the domain of the local government minister.

He said that PPP terms itself as democratic but when they staged a sit-in outside CM House in Qaim Ali Shah’s period, a case under ATA was registered against them.

He said that the provincial government is asking a big share from federal government under NFC citing more contribution from Karachi but when they demand the same at local level then they are blamed for division in the province.

“If the provincial government is giving grant to the city then it is not their gratefulness instead the city deserves it. “Provincial government recovers over Rs 225 billion from Karachi in terms of provincial taxes but in return what was given was not even 1 percent to the city.

“Agriculture tax is not being implemented and despite improving the situation of the people who pay taxes only amount for departments are increased in budget,” he said.

“We do not discriminate on rural and urban basis instead they should be asked as where billions of those funds that were earmarked for rural Sindh were spend when the standard of life of the people are not improved,” he said.

He said that PPP had done nothing in last nine years for the province and if they would remain in power for next 20 years even then they could not do anything for people due to their lack of interest in improving lives of poor of the province.

Minister for Information Nasir Hussain Shah said that PPP had given land rights and free land to the poor and Asif Ali Zardari had distributed land among poor women.

He said that opposition is worried from the uplift projects carried out by the provincial government because they knew that the people would only vote for the PPP in next election keeping ion view the uplift work it had carried out in Sindh province especially in Karachi.

He said that the provincial government had also included reforms for journalists in the budget and introduced health cards for journalists and photographers.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that Sindh could not be divided until they are alive and Sindh is the gateway of the Pakistan and Karachi is its port city.

“It is regretful that only Karachi is being discussed for revenue generation,’ he said.

He said that Sindh was the only province that openly welcomed the migrants from India but now discrimination should not be made on the basis of linguistics in order to increase hatred.

“We will not tolerate any word against the province,” he said adding that it was PPP that raised the provincial share in NFC from 43 percent to 57 percent.  He said that it was Musharraf who did not give share of the provinces under NFC and at that time MQM was supporting him.

“They are unable to see progress in the rural areas of the Sindh province,” he said and asked as to whether rural areas are not part of the province.  “The province is dependent 70 percent on its agriculture that is in rural areas,” he said adding they also want less urbanization and wanted to improve situation in rural areas to avoid this situation.

Former Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that they are ones who had taken initiative in the Karcahi to maintain law and order situation and ultimately due to joint struggle and sacrifices of Rangers and police, peace was ensure in the city after a long period of brutality and massacre.

“We know that there are some people who asked for expelling Rangers from Karachi but we resisted it,” he said. The House was later adjourned for Thursday morning.