Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah proudly declared during his budget speech on Monday that the government had “rectified to a large extent” the neglect of minority communities by previous governments.
Shah spoke about the development work and funds granted to hundreds of families, adding that money had been provided for the repair of 400 churches, temples and graveyards. He claimed that 20,000 families were granted financial assistance, two thousand students were given scholarships, 3,500 poor patients received financial and medical assistance and 1,000 deserving families were given dowry.
However Shah’s speech was surprising as Sindh government officials had recently declared that the minorities affairs department did not utilise a single paisa of the Rs110 million that was allocated in the Annual Development Programme for the year 2011-12.
The department’s secretary Badar Jameel told The Express Tribune that no money in the Annual Development Programme had been spent on any development project and the money had lapsed.
“We could not spend anything but we will this year,” he claimed. He said that since he was recently transferred to the department, he could not answer for why the money was not spent. Jameel vowed that he would make sure that the money the department gets for this year’s ADP would be rightly used.
On Monday, the government claimed a whopping 650% surge in the ADP of the minorities’ affairs department, increasing it from
Rs 110 million in the outgoing fiscal year to Rs720 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
Amongst the new projects for which money has been allocated includes the rehabilitation of Sadhu Bella, a 150 year old temple in Sukkur that was damaged in the flooding of 2010. Money has also been allocated for all those places of worship that were damaged during the 2009 and 2010 floods. Money has also been allocated for a project named the implementation of various development schemes for minorities, but there is no explanation for what these projects are.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.
More in SindhWith Rs394m for environment, all ‘green’ for govt