The new provincial budget suggests that the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government has succeeded in taking away the responsibilities from the district administrations, in final manifestation of the revival of Sindh Local Government Ordinance 1979.
In the Sindh budget 2012-13 announced on Monday, the funds allotted to the local governments were cut down by 49 per cent to only Rs38 billion from Rs74.8 billion in the previous fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the provincial government’s expenses jumped to Rs60.58 billion from Rs52.3 billion in 2011-12 due to the transfer of powers to the provincial level.
The disbandment of district governments was obvious. Whereas, the district governments received Rs37 billion from the provincial consolidated funds last year, nothing has been put side for the districts in the new budget. These numbers make it obvious that the provincial ministers are vying to get as much funds as possible in the election year – something that will surely not sit well with the ruling party’s ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Under the Annual Development Programme 2012-13, the Sindh government has made allocations for various projects in Karachi. As part of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) package, the city will get Rs2 billion for ten development schemes, including projects like flyovers at Jinnah Terminal, Ayesha Manzil and Teen Hatti. Work on the Jinnah Terminal flyover has already kicked off.
The PPP government has also made block allocations of Rs2.4 billion for its stronghold areas. Lyari was allocated Rs800 million; Keamari Rs700 million; Malir Rs500 million; rural areas Rs200 million; and the East and Central districts received Rs100 million each. This money does not fall under the purview of KMC and is mostly utilised by the MPAs.
During the outgoing fiscal year, the government spent Rs4.1 billion on infrastructure projects in the city. But in absence of any accountability, the Sindh government continues to boast about the same projects again and again.
Last year, the government put aside Rs1 billion each for the much-trumpeted K-IV water project and SIII sewerage plan, but work at these schemes is yet to take off.
Among some other noteworthy projects, the government targets to spend Rs200 million each on revamping the Gujjar nullah and widening of the Hawksbay Road. For five new sports complexes with an estimated cost of over Rs1 billion, being built in Baldia Town, Gulberg, Landhi, New Karachi and Orangi Town, only Rs50 million have been allocated.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2012.