KARACHI        -          Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Monday that Sindh was the only province where the local governments (LGs) were functional, whereas these had been abolished in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan.

“Sindh’s local government system has administrative, financial and operational powers, but even then a perception is being created that local governments in the province are powerless,” the CM regretted. He was answering the questions of 103-member delegation of the Naval War College, which called on him here at the CM House under the leadership of Rear Admiral Mohammad Zubair.

The CM said that the local government system of 2002 was envisaged and implemented by the federal government without taking the provinces on board, because at that time the provincial assemblies were not functional. “The third tier, the local government, was made state within a state and was given the power to promote officers even to the higher grades, and were also delegated the revenue powers,” he recalled.

The CM said that they [LG people] promoted officials from Grade BPS-7 to Grade BPS-21 by creating posts on their own, and at the end of the day they started begging for financial support from the provincial government because they had no money to pay salaries to their employees.

Similarly, the encroachments along nullahs, on plots and other government properties emerged during the LG formed under local government system of 2002,” he said, and added, “Therefore, the provincial government enacted a new local government law and implemented it. Look at our system, which works to this day and will complete its tenure.”

He said that the Vision 2025 as worked out by his government laid down a synchronized and integrated development strategy for inclusive and participative economic growth, which could provide equal opportunities to all. “The vision provides a comprehensive roadmap to harness the resources by creating connectivity between the federal and Sindh governments, and it will put the province on the trajectory of growth, socio-economic development and prosperity.”

Talking about the mission of the provincial government, he said that increasing investment in education, health and food sectors besides in schemes for the provision of safe drinking water to people, sanitation and building a resilient infrastructure for energy production, road network and water resources management for socio-economic development and poverty reduction were the government’s priorities.

Murad said that Sindh’s contribution to the total 1558 billion cubic feet of the national gas production stood at 71 percent. “Sindh has the installed capacity of power generation of 22797 MW in Pakistan. The province produces 44 percent of 24.573 million barrels of total oil production of the country, and has 186 billion tonnes of coal reserves, out of which 175 billion tonnes are in Thar,” he informed the visitors.

Talking about the development portfolio, the chief minister Sindh that Rs284.04 billion, which included the provincial ADP of Rs208 billion, district ADP of Rs20 billion, foreign assisted projects of Rs51.15 billion and federal PSDP of Rs4.89 billion.

He added that Rs161.742 billion had been allocated for 1,853 ongoing schemes, while Rs46.258 billion for 852 new schemes. “In the total Rs208 billion, Irrigation has 22 percent share, road network 21 percent, water and sanitation 20 percent, health seven percent, education 12 percent and others 18 percent,” Murad elaborated.

Talking about the challenges his government was faced with, the CM said that global terrorist networks like Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Taliban; ethnic terrorism by MQM-London, BLA, illegal immigrants from Afghanistan as well as Afghan refugees, arms smuggling from Darra Adamkhel and foreign countries were the real threats.

“However, with the political will and support of Police, Rangers and Pakistan Army, the Sindh government has turned the province into a peaceful province where arts, crafts, culture and literary activities were thriving day by day,” he noted.