KARACHI: In the last nine months, the Sindh government has only spent 43% of its development budget on various schemes, said provincial finance minister Murad Ali Shah during the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.
He added that the federal government has yet to release a share of Sindh's budgetary funds. Discussing the current third financial quarter budget of the current year (2015-16), he said that there was a total of Rs162 billion development portfolio for the entire province, of which the district government's share stands at Rs20 billion. The remaining amount [Rs142 billion] is earmarked for Sindh government schemes, he explained.
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"For the Sindh government schemes we have released Rs88 billion and so far spent Rs81 billion," said the finance minister.
The assembly was supposed to spend whole day on budget expenditure for the third quarter but some lawmakers, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislators, requested the speaker defer the budget debate till Tuesday as they have not gone through the progress report submitted by Shah in the assembly.
Shah informed the House that the federal government released Rs60 billion less than the Sindh government's actual share in the last nine months. "For this year, we have estimated a Rs726 billion budget for Sindh, with a Rs494 billion share from the federal government. In the last nine months, the federal government was supposed to release Rs370 billion [from divisible pool] to Sindh but it only released Rs310 billion," Shah said, expressing his hope that the federal government will release Sindh's outstanding share in the next three months.
Regarding the provincial government's revenue generation and expenditure, the finance minister explained that the Sindh government had fixed a Rs142 billion revenue target by setting a target of Rs61 billion for sales tax on services and Rs63.6 billion for other taxes but, in the last nine months, it only collected Rs83.8 billion. "Our nine-month tax collection target was Rs93 billion but we collected Rs10 billion less than our actual target. I hope we will bridge this gap in the next financial quarter," he said.
MQM parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed said that out of a total Rs503 billion revenue expenditure in the current year, the government has released Rs395 billion in the last three quarters and spent only Rs285 billion. "Government has released Rs115 billion for education and spent only Rs82 billion," he claimed.
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Presenting facts and figure of the last three quarters, Ahmed, who previoulsy served as finance minister, said Rs49 billion has been released to the health department but government has spent Rs32 billion. "There is dire need to monitor the utilisation of funds," he suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2016.
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