KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah presented in the provincial assembly on Monday tax-free but deficit budget involving an outlay of Rs267.70 billion for the year 2008-09 as against revised budget of Rs234.6 billion for 2007-08, with net deficit of Rs14 billion. Like federal government, Sindh government had also announced 20 per cent increase in the salaries of the employees and 20 per cent increase in pension that would cost over Rs 10 billion to the provincial government in FY09. Sindh government also vowed to provide 50,000 jobs in the coming budget. Sindh government had allocated Rs 570 million in the new budget with the aim to bring at par salaries of its employees with the salaries of Punjab police. The chief minister said that despite financial constraints, the development portfolio of the province stands at Rs89.3 billion in 2008-09, which is 23 per cent higher than revised development budget of Rs72.3 billion for 2007-08. It includes Rs 55 billion Provincial Annual Development Programme for FY09 as against Rs 41.532 billion in FY08. In term of sectoral allocation, the biggest share of 16 percent has gone to Transport and Communication sector, which includes significant allocation for farm to market roads, where budget had been raised to Rs9 billion against Rs7.66 billion for 2007-08. The allocation for MPAs under Priority Programme has been raised from Rs5 to Rs10 billion while Rs1 billion have been allocated for Village Electrification and Provision of Sui Gas to villages in the next budget. He said Sindh has a rich historic heritage needed to be protected and projected in multiple ways. The government is building Sindh Heritage Fund of Rs1 billion. For this an allocation of Rs200 million has been made. This fund will be managed through a Board comprising public and private sector people having a background of this subject. On short-term basis, the government plans to put in place a mechanism where it wants to reduce poverty by providing some financial support and at the same time, the government wants to develop skill for youth to get them employed. On medium term basis, the government would concentrate on encouraging investment and growth especially in small and medium scale industry, raise agricultural productivity, attract investment in mineral sector and create environment for improving services in varying ways. The chief minister said although employment in the public sector will not be able to overcome chronic unemployment in Sindh and the answer lies in expanding manufacturing and services sector in the private sector. However, this problem has been compounded by not filling significant number of vacancies in the past decade or so in the government. There are approximately 50,000 posts vacant in different departments and the government creating nearly 8,000 new jobs in police and other departments in 2008-09. The government has already begun the process of filing these vacancies, which will be speeded up after budget. About Poverty Reduction and Skill development measures, Syed Qaim Ali Shah said government is initiating a mass skill development programme called, "Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme". This is an urgent relief measure for skill development of poor, semi- literate and educated youth in Sindh for enhancing their employability. The government plans to train more than 100,000 youth within two years in the field linked to market demand, both local and international. By now programme for training of 61,000 youth have been finalised. Under this; over 40,000 matriculates and below will be trained in construction and industrial skills for 3 to 12 months and then linked to job market. Approximately 8000 youth will be trained in agriculture, livestock, fisheries extension and other trades. 3800 youth will be trained as paramedics and in midwives courses; around 4000 youth will be trained in IT. The government in contact with private sector for facilitating training in textile, garments', automobiles etc. In this context project costing Rs4 billion have been finalised and Rs 2.9 billion allocated in ADP. Government would seek assistance from federal government as well. He said announced that Sindh must take up Skill Development on substantial and institutional basis, and for this government will set up Sindh TEVTA for undertaking modern technical training in accordance with market demand. This is the only way of raising employment as well as preparing for wide scale industrialization in Sindh. The success of most of the East Asian Countries lies on this component which helped their economies grow to phenomenal level. He said the government has made allocation in the budget and after budget, he himself supervise establishment of this Authority for which an Act will be submitted in the assembly. Mr. Shah said a third major intervention will be providing Housing to the Poor. This will be the government's key towards ushering social transformation in Sindh. Federal government has announced construction of one million houses for the poor and retired government employees. Government of Sindh has evolved its own programme and under this, it will provide 100,000 houses within two to three years. The budget proposes Federal Tax Assignment of Rs102.396 billion for year 2008-09 against 78.908 billion in 2007-08 and Special Grant worth Rs8.659 billion against 6.809 billion in 2007-08. Total Federal Tax Assignment was projected at Rs111.055 billion against 85.718 billion in 2007-08 and Provincial Receipt at Rs30.252 billion in 2008-09 against 28.457 billion in 2007-08. Straight Transfers were estimated at Rs40.796 billion against 42.293 billion in 2007-08 while District Support Grant (including other Grants) projected at Rs25.732 billion against 20.388 billion in 2007-08. In the current revenue expenditure the Sindh government has estimated Rs102.997 billion expenditures in 2008-09 against 90.264 billion in 2007-08 while Local governments (DGs, TMA,UAs) expenditures projected at Rs77.989 billion against 73.598 billion in 2007-08.