KARACHI - The treasury and opposition lawmakers kept labeling allegations and counter allegations on each other as discussion on budget for fiscal year 2020-21 entertered the second day in the Sindh Assembly.

At one moment, heated words were exchanged to the extent that one of the opposition members declared that she would not let treasury members to deliver their speeches with one treasury member announcing that she would hit with stick the member who attempted to disturb her during the debate.

Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani kept on telling Grand Democratic Alliance member Nusrat Sehar Abbasi not to disturb the house, the members from both the sides continued to hurl allegations against each other’s top leadership.

‘Sindh government ignored education sector’

Rabia Azfar Nizami of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took a jibe at the PPP-led Sindh government for ‘ignoring’ the education sector and said the education was not the provincial government’s priority. She said that 90 per cent allocated amount for education department was spent on non development expenditures whereas the development projects got only eight per cent.

The PTI MPA said that 6.2 million children were out of school in the province and only 2.5 million were enrolled in primary sections. She added that enrollment at secondary level was just around 380,000 whereas the number of students at college level were just around 129,000.

Rabia said that university enrollment at Islamabad higher than total numbers of varsity’s students at entire Sindh, adding that 550,000 students were enrolled in the capital whereas only 174,000 were registered in the province.

She said that there were 265 existing schemes for education department in the budget but most of them were incorporated in the budget since 2009. “Six comprehensive schools established with Rs 14 billion have been non-functional for two years,” Rabia said. The PTI MPA was of the view that 90 per cent of 170,000 teachers in the province were arts teachers and only 10 per cent were specialists in different subjects. “There was no scheme in the budget for uplifting efficiency of these teachers,” she said.

Speaking on child protection, Rabia said the lost and found children in the province were left on mercy of the charity organizations.

 

“It is responsibility of the state to look after the children. The Chief Minister should give this department to someone else as he does not have the passion to run child protection department,” the visibly irked MPA added.

‘Provincial budget is people friendly’

Welcoming the budget, PPP member Anthony Naveed said that the chief minister and his team deserved utmost appreciation for presenting such a people friendly and stable budget despite the fact that the federal government cut 31 per cent share of Sindh.

He said that the province was far ahead in comparison with other provinces in per person spending which, according to the Bureau of Satitistic, was Rs1,305. He said that per person spending in Punjab was Rs818, Rs789 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Rs1,020 in Balochistan.

The minority MPA said that Sindh was the only province who gave health risk allowance to the frontline health workers fighting against Covid-19. Besides, he said, the salaries and pensions of the provincial employees were raised by 10 per cent.

He said that the provincial government substantially increased health budget by 17 per cent and agriculture budget by 40 per cent in the budget and added that separate schemes for small growers were earmarked in the budget.

The PPP legislator said that the allocations for welfare of minorities in the province were, however, not increased in the budget due to unprecedented condition.

He suggested that the income earned by the province on the sale of liquor should be spent on the welfare of the minorities.

Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of GDA criticized Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuhu for the department’s ‘poor’ performance and asked the minister to step down and let someone else to run the department. ”So what if she (Dr Azra) is a sister of former President Asif Ali Zardari, why she was imposed on us,” Nusrat asked.

The GDA MPA said that she and her mother was badly abused on social media for staging protest against the ruling PPP in the assembly.

Nasir Hussain Qureshi of the MQM-P said that the provincial government in continuation of biasness towards urban areas didn’t give Hyderabad any development scheme.

He also asked the government to soften the lockdown even more and reopen marriage halls through Standard Operating Procedures.

Another Muttahida MPA Nadeem Siddiqui termed the budget nothing but a ‘Gorakh Dhanda’ of statistics. He said that Sindh CM always complaint that Prime Minister Imran didn’t reply to his letter but Syed Murad Ali Shah too didn’t reply our many letters.

Pir Mujib ul Huq of the PPP said that the PTI-led federal government had failed to cope with the Covid-19, adding that lockdown was softened in other countries when the graph of patients started decreasing but the centre eased off the restrictions when ‘we were about to witness peak of the deadly virus’. “Prime Minister should have taken serious steps, instead he termed the coronavirus just a flu,” he added. Warning the centre for plan to roll back the 18th Constitutional amendment, he said it would have dire consequences. 

TI member Bilal Ghaffar termed the budget a gimmick of statistics and said that the PPP-led provincial government had failed to solve the problems of people.

He said that the provincial government could not achieve the target of provincial revenue as it collected only 44 per cent of the target in nine months of the current fiscal year. “Does the provincial government have magic wand to achieve the remaining target in three months?, he asked.

PPP member Sadia Javed came down hard on Prime Minister Imran Khan and said that the federal government was a symbol of unity among federating units, but it (federation) had become a “symbol of disunity” since Imran Khan became the prime minister. She said Imran Khan had announced that he would be a hypocrite if he ever entered into alliance with MQM and PML-Q.

Others who spoke included PPP’s Tariq Talpur, Heer Soho, Kulsoom Chandio, Shaheena Sher Ali, Muhammed Qasim Soomro, Dr Lal Chand Ukrani and Riaz Shah Shirazi, PTI’s Sanjay Gangwani and  Adeel Ahmed and DGA’ Arif Mustafa Jatoi.