Rejecting all the cut motions put forward by the opposition, the Sindh Assembly passed a budget of Rs457 billion for the coming year on Friday.
In the upcoming budget, Rs161 billion has been allocated for the Annual Development Programme (ADP), with total estimated revenue receipts of Rs458.4 billion and an estimated surplus of Rs882 million.
During the session, the joint opposition moved around 653 cut motions to reduce operational funds allocated for different departments. They called it unnecessary burdens on the national exchequer but the treasury benches insisted that they had already cut down around Rs15 billion and further reductions would affect the performance of these departments.
Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro presided over the session, which started at around 10:30 am. Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah presented 59 demands for grants to meet the expenditure for the upcoming financial year ending June 20, 2012, but opposition members stressed on reducing some funds from the grants.
Moving their cut motions, they suggested that the funds can be spent on the construction of houses, hospitals and roads in flood-hit areas.
In his first demand, Shah sought Rs3.99 billion to meet state expenditures but the opposition members moved 18 cut motions against this demand.
Pakistan Muslim League — Quaid’s Chetan Mal Arwani wanted to reduce Rs100,000 from operational expenses of the Sindh Service Tribunal, provincial public safety and police complaint commission secretariat. “These departments will not be affected if Rs100,000 are deducted and spent on the welfare of patients,” he said.
Opposition leader Jam Madad Ali wanted to reduce Rs300,000 from the operational expenses of CM and Governor houses, the housing and town planning department, and enquiries and anti-corruption establishments.
There were four cut motions put forward by PML-Q’s Razzaque Rahimoon. Marvi Rashdi and Nusrat Seher Abbasi from the same party also put forward six cut motions. The finance minister pointed out that the opposition had no idea how to move cut motions. “Cut motions are economy cuts but opposition members have neither mentioned policy cuts nor have they disapproved government policy,” he said.
When the opposition leader suggested reducing the expenses of police and education departments, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah objected. “The police are guarding every citizen and it is high time that we encourage them by giving them more facilities. No one should object to funds allocated for them.” Ali said that, “since Independence, not a single cut motion has been passed. This democratic government should come forward and set a precedent”.
The opposition was upset when the treasury benches made fun of Rahimoon’s English accent as he presented his cut motion. “We know that you people have received education from abroad and grammar schools but you should learn the ethics of speaking in the assembly,” said Ali.
Later, the speaker asked the finance minister to put the budgetary proposal for the year 2011-2012 before the house. It was passed unanimously.
Bonus for hardworking workers
The chief minister announced that three-month salaries will be given to the employees of the finance and law departments and the Sindh Assembly secretariat for their hard work during the budget days.
Ban on mobiles, computers
As usual, the speaker had to call out to the MPAs several times to stop using their mobile phones and computers during the session. “If you will not abide by the rules and follow the decorum of the assembly, I will have no other option but to ask you to go out,” he said.
He said that he was the first speaker of provincial assemblies who had allowed live coverage of the proceedings so everyone, including the media, should follow the decorum. Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, who was recently caught watching videos on his iPad, said that there is no privacy in the house. It seems like independence has been given just for “character assassination” of the members, he said.
Later, the speaker adjourned the session till Saturday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2011.
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