With no member either from the opposition or the treasury benches presenting a cut motion against expenditures, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government won unanimous approval for its Rs542 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The Rs150 billion supplementary budget for the year 2011-12 was also passed by the house, after a lengthy discussion in which around 99 members of the assembly took part, beginning from June 4.
Responding to the feedbacks given by MPAs, Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Rs140 billion would be spent on development by the end of the financial year. Setting aside the allegations of utilising meagre amounts of development budget, he said that the government had released Rs23 billion in the first financial quarter, but due to lack of interest on the part of departments, the budget was not used timely.
Earlier, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Sardar Ahmed informed the house that cut motions were a requirement of the budget, but no member came forward to present the applications.
Regarding the law and order situation, he said that Rs39 billion have been set aside, but the situation can only be improved through structural changes. “We once again suggest establishing provincial-level intelligence bureau to control the security situation,” he added. Ahmed also asked the government to provide subsidy on flour. “People in Karachi are getting a tandoori roti at Rs4, which is being sold in restaurants at Rs30,” he said.
He appreciated the government’s effort to generate the power from coal, but stressed the need to focus on alternate energy. “There is great potential of ocean energy and we can generate power from the tidal waves in Karachi,” he said. “There is massive potential of wind and solar energy in Sindh as well.”
The MQM legislator also proposed setting up monitoring committees at provincial and district levels to review the three-month progress of the budgetary funds’ utilisation.
Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazarul Haq said that he had proposed a “school specific budget” and would open one separate Cambridge school for boys and girls in every district of Sindh. According to the plan, every tehsil would have a degree college.
The minister said that as a token of appreciation, each girl student will be given a stipend of Rs1,000 yearly in the upcoming budget. He said that they have upgraded 800 primary schools to middle; 300 middle schools to high schools; and 50 high schools to higher secondary schools. “We have made a law under which education is the fundamental right for the children between the age of five and 16 years, and education is free for them,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.