Majority of the Sindh Assembly lawmakers are unhappy over what they say is unequal distribution of development funds. In Friday’s session, the legislators termed the priority given in the provision of funds to six districts as “discriminatory”. Demanding special packages for their respective areas, they also stressed the need to utilise the budget funds properly.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (Likeminded group) Arbab Zulfiqar termed the new budget “a mere jugglery of words”. “More than 60 per cent of the budget remains unutilised and the government claims to have broken a 60-year record for development funds,” he said. “We do not need a sugar-coated budget; funds should be utilised properly in a transparent manner.”
He said that of the Rs111 billion development funds provided this year, hardly Rs43 billion was utilised, and not a single scheme was launched in the Tharparkar district, the most-neglected area of Sindh. “Thar deserves funds the most, as people there are dying of hunger and thirst,” he said. “Unfortunately, the special packages have been given to the cities of president and [Sindh] chief minister,” he added. Not only he opposed the Zulfikarabad project, but said that eviction notices have also been issued to many villages in Thar in the name of development.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Hayyat Talpur, while appreciating the government on the Rs577 billion budget, was concerned that a majority of schools in his constituency were still inundated. “Not a single school has been constructed and new schemes are not being given to us,” he said. “The areas of Naukot, Jhudo and Digri in Mirpurkhas division are still surrounded by floodwaters.”
His party colleague, Ali Murad Rajar, said that his constituency in the Umerkot district has been totally neglected in the new budget. A few development projects which were announced three years ago are also in doldrums.
“The budget’s 20 per cent has been set aside for education, but we want to know when cheating [practices] at educational institutions will come to an end, and the ‘ghost’ schools will start functioning,” he said. “Politicians, teachers and parents are equally responsible for flouring the copy culture trend. District-level committees should be set up to monitor schools and exam centres to eradicate the menace,” Rajar suggested.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Rehan Zafar diverted the house’s attention towards the looming water crisis in Karachi. He said that Rs1 billion was not sufficient for the K-IV project and demanded that the budget be increased to Rs6 billion. He said some [politically] influential people have established illegal hydrants and are selling water through tankers. “Around 3 million gallons per day are being stolen by the hydrants,” he added. He also requested the law department to declare water theft a non-bailable offence.
About the dairy village and meat processing zone scheme, the MQM legislator said that of the Rs1 billion allocated in the outgoing budget, Rs876 million remain unused. “Since the budget is not utilised properly, we suggest giving executive powers to Sindh Assembly’s standing committees to monitor and implement the projects,” he said.
Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi was of the view that the government spends around Rs1.34 billion on education, health and security every day, but the situation keeps worsening and people are deprived of basic facilities. Abdul Sattar Rajpar of the PPP went on to say that many companies in the province are selling substandard pesticides and medicines, and laws are needed against them. “We always speak about ‘ghost’ hospitals and basic health centres, but I want to know why the government has not appointed a doctor in the past five years,” he said. PPP’s Aisha Khoso said that Hindu community members are being kidnapped routinely, but the police have failed to protect the minorities.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.