KARACHI - The provincial government on Sunday adopted the Sindh Finance Bill 2016 to pass approximately Rs869 billion budget for the year 2016-17. The opposition members staged protest and tore copies of the bill for not allowing them to present all of their cut motions.

The opposition members flared up when Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza used powers of the speaker under the rule 151 of the rules and procedures to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with the demands for grants, and allowed to table the finance bill and other expenditure in the House for approval. The provincial assembly also approved the supplementary expenditure of Rs45.149 billion for the year 2015-16 after the house rejected the cut-motions in it from opposition benches with majority while the authorised expenditure for 2016-17 was also laid before the assembly for approval.

Senior Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah tabled the finance bill clause-wise in the house for approval despite protest from the opposition parties including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister said that the provincial budget was by and large a new tax free budget and they had only increased the tax rates of high end consumers.

“I had for the first time witnessed cut motions in the salary expenditure from the opposition benches which is an attempt from them to deprive the people of their jobs but the provincial government is committed to give 50,000 more jobs this year,” he said adding that last year they were unable to recruit people as per their plans due to ban from the Election Commission and the apex court of the country.

The chief minister also announced a three month salary for all of the provincial government staff that took part in preparation of this budget.

Opposition Leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan criticised the deputy speaker for over ruling the opposition in the budget approval process, and said that for the entire year they faced majority rules in the assembly and now even in the budget session, the government took use of its majority to suppress their voice for raising voice of the deprived people.

Before presenting his cut motions on the budget 2016-17, the opposition leader criticised the government for incurring excess spending on the Chief Minister House and said that this could easily be used to uplift the condition of the oppressed people of the society.

The opposition lawmakers from the MQM and PTI also criticised the provincial government for setting aside a heavy budget for helicopter of the chief minister and other expenses from the CM House, and said that if a petty amount from it is spared then it could easily be used in enhancing health conditions in the province specially the hospitals of Karachi.

Land, money behind Karachi conflicts: Qaim

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah stated that the reasons behind the conflicts in Karachi were land and money. He said this while speaking in the Sindh Assembly on Sunday. In Saturday’s session, Qaim Ali Shah accidently referred to qawwal Amjad Sabri as Junaid Jamshed and mourned over his death. Shah is known for making such bizarre statements along with committing unintentional yet odd errors during his speeches.