KARACHI   -   Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday said that incompetency and inability to run affairs from the federal government was also sinking provincial governments including Sindh province whose development spending was drastically cut short to Rs 80 billion in first 10 months of the outgoing fiscal year.

He said this while addressing a post-budget press conference at Sindh Assembly along with provincial ministers for revenue, local bodies, advisor on information Murtaza Wahab and senior provincial government officials.

The chief minister said that not only Sindh but province led by the PTI governments also witnessed a sharp decline in spending due to incompetency of the federal authorities.

Giving a comparison of uplift budget allocation and spending in Punjab and Sindh province before and after PTI government, the chief minister said that Punjab allocated Rs 635 billion in 2017-18 for uplift projects with a year-end expenditure of Rs 414 billion, which was lowered to an unprecedented budget allocation of Rs 238 billion for 2018-19.

“The Sindh province also got affected from their incompetency and with gradual increase of uplift budget to 343 billion last year, it had to be lowered to Rs 282 billion for 2019-20,” he said adding that the expenditure incurred during the outgoing year also witnessed an unprecedented low at Rs 80 billion in 10 months owing to lesser federal transfers, Rs 100 billion short as compared to yearly expenditure during 2017-18.

The chief minister also blamed that the federal authorities frequently changed estimates of amount to be received by the province under federal transfers, making it difficult for them to manage their expenditures during the outgoing year.

“On May 30, a letter from federal government assured transfer of Rs 666 billion by fiscal year end but later changed it twice on June 04 and June 12, settling to Rs 631 billion,” he said adding that still the province received Rs 492.1 billion till May 31, making a shortfall of Rs 139.4 billion from promised funds to be received in last month (June 2019) of fiscal year.

On the other hand, he said that the revision of federal transfer estimates for next fiscal year was raised after these changes to Rs 835 billion in last letter on June 12. “However, I am not sure that the federal authorities will be able to release this amount and had asked the provincial authorities to manage expenditure far below this, what looks like a hypothetical figure,” said the chief executive of the province.

He also informed that the provincial receipts target were raise to Rs 288.709 billion for upcoming fiscal year that included taxation for those who could afford.

“Some of the exempted items are brought under taxation while sales tax on services is being raised in province after a gap of 18 years,” he said.

The chief minister said that health and education would remain a priority for them in the upcoming fiscal year and their non-development budget including grants for health institutes had been raised upto 19 percent (Rs 220 bn) and 18 percent (Rs 114.4) respectively.

“The major increase was made in the budget of special education 76 percent and law department 58 percent,” he said adding that law and order budget also got a raise of nine percent.

KARACHI DEVELOPMENT

The chief minister said that the federal government only earmarked Rs 12 billion for the development projects in Karachi that also included ongoing schemes.

Where is the amount under the recently announced package of Rs 162 billion from the prime minister for Karachi, he asked and said that the federal government was also not cooperating in Karachi Circular Railway project and key water projects including K-IV in the city.

Shah said that the province had allocated Rs 36 billion for Karachi projects that included projects funded by provincial government and under Foreign Project Assistance (FPA).

“International donors including World Bank and Asian Development Bank are investing in some projects including neighborhood improvement programme, Competitive and Livable City of Karachi (CLICK), a project for structural, legislative and administrative changes in KWSB that would pave way for Rs $1.5 billion funds for water projects, yellow line and red line bus rapid transport systems,” he said.

The chief minister was of the view that Karachi should be separately treated for the issues faced by biggest metropolis of the country as federal and Sindh government alone could not resolve it. “Therefore donor agencies coming with investments will pave way for improvement in the city’s infrastructure,” he said.

SINDH HOSPITALS

Responding to a query regarding transfer of three hospitals to federal government after the apex court ruling, the chief minister said that a notification from federal government could not transfer authority as they had to take control of the facilities on ground.

He said that a total allocation of Rs 15 billion is made for the three institutes under Sindh budget while the federal authorities have failed to allocate any funds for them despite claiming their take over.

“From 700 million, the Sindh government has raised funds meant for NICVD to Rs 8 billion, making it a state of the art facility,” he said and added that if the federal authorities do not have the funds and competency, then they would raise the issue in their review petition filed in apex court to hand them over to Sindh.

SA session requisition

controversy

The chief minister lashed out at the opposition and the governor Sindh Imran Ismail for creating controversy over requisition of the ongoing session by treasury lawmakers.

“It is not the governor or speaker who summon the assembly proceedings instead it is the chief minister on whose advice governor is bound to summon the proceedings and in other case, the speaker could summon proceedings after requisition from one-fourth of the members,” he said.

The chief minister informed that he had asked the governor on June 01 through a letter to summon proceedings and on negligence and failure to implement his constitutional role, the PPPP lawmakers submitted a requisition signed by 50 members.

He said that it was unfortunate that they could not do anything against unconstitutional activity of the governor and if PPPP comes to power, he would be the first to call for amendment aimed at impeachment of the governor. “The governor has nothing to do with any executive role in the province, which is evident from rulings of the top court judges in various instances,” he said.