KARACHI: Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the exorbitant expenditure on pension payments and has ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter.
He issued these directives while presiding over a budget strategy meeting at CM House on Thursday. The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary to the CM Sohail Rajput and the concerned officers of the finance and planning and development departments as well as the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB).
During the presentation, the chief minister was told that during the 2015-16 financial year, pension payments were recorded at Rs52.8 billion. This figure went up to Rs70 billion in 2016-17 and again increased to Rs76 billion in 2017-18. The chief minister said the sum being spent on pension payments was quite large and expressed his doubts on the veracity of the increases.
The chief minister directed Rajput to constitute a high-level inquiry and audit committee to investigate the payments. "The audit and inquiry should be started from the districts where huge payments have been made," Shah ordered. He explained that the audit must be done in a professional and transparent manner. "You can hire the services of any professional auditor if you need," he told his principal secretary.
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The chief minister also directed the finance department to computerise the entire pension system, including the payments and number of pensioners. "There should be proper software for pensioners," he directed.
During the meeting, Shah was told that in 2015-16 the development expenditures were Rs137.3 billion while in 2016-17 they were Rs210.1 billion. In 2017-18 this amount will jump to Rs344.1 billion.
The meeting was told that that in the last three years, the revenue receipts have shown an increase of 8.9% while next year an increase of 14% is expected. During 2015-16 Rs650.9 billion was received, in 2016-17 Rs692.9 billion and in 2017-18 Rs854.3 billion is expected to be received.
The chief minister was also informed that straight transfers from the federal government were Rs518 billion in 2015-16, Rs539.9 billion in 2016-17 and Rs654.6 billion in 2017-18. The provincial government expects that in 2018-19 this amount will reach around Rs743.1 billion, Rs845.4 billion in 2019-20 and Rs933.4 billion in 2020-21. The chief minister directed his finance and planning and development department teams to devise a budget strategy, particularly of development as per projected figures.
It was also pointed out that in the head of services on sales tax, Rs61.5 billion was received in 2015-16, Rs78.5 billion in 2016-17 and Rs100 billion is expected to be received in 2017-18. In 2018-19 the government hopes to receive more Rs115 billion.
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