KARACHI: Despite the federal government's decision to take over three major hospitals in Karachi, Sindh government on Saturday announced to run the hospitals and allocated Rs15 billion for the same.
During the post budget briefing, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said, "We have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court (SC). The notification issued by federal government to take over Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH) has no legal value".
The CM, who was flanked by Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and information advisor, Murtaza Wahab, referring to SC's verdict said, "The court has clearly given directives to the federal government to first compensate the Sindh government for its investment on the hospitals. So, they cannot run these facilities until or unless pay us".
He further asked that since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government has not allocated a single penny for these hospitals, how they could possibly run them. It is easy to issue a notification sitting Islamabad, but difficult to run the affairs of these public hospitals, said Shah adding that no one, but the provincial government would run these hospitals.
He reiterated that the Sindh government has made significant investment in the three health facilities and added that some more projects are in the pipeline. "I would like to give you an example of NICVD when the federal government handed it over to us after the 18th Amendment. At that time, in 2011-12, the allocation for NICVD was merely Rs355 million and we have enhanced it to Rs8.8 billion in 2018-19," he said.
Announcing Rs52 billion for Karachi, the Sindh CM said that the his government has allocated Rs36 billion for the city in Annual Development Programme (ADP) and a further Rs16 billion would be borrowed from foreign project assistants. "Sindh government has invested around Rs29 billion in the mega projects for Karachi city in the last three years".
He further said, "The Prime Minister had announced a package of Rs162 billion for Karachi on March 30, 2019. But there are only 19 Karachi-based schemes, with a total allocation of Rs.12.1 billion, in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP)".
He remarked that there are only six new schemes for Karachi with an allocation of Rs3.9 billion.
Criticising the federal government for not releasing funds properly, the CM said that in the current fiscal year, 2018-19, the Centre had to release Rs631.543 billion in funds but in the last 11 months, Sindh had only received Rs492.135 billion of the total amount.
"By the end of the financial year the shortfall would be Rs140.527 billion," he lamented.
While talking about the total receipts of the province for the financial year 2019-20, the CM said, "The federal government asked us to present a balanced budget without any deficit". He remarked that they had done it, "In this budget, the federal government has to give us Rs835 billion and the provincial taxes collection estimate stands at Rs288 billion".
He added that the total cost of Sehwan and Jamshoro road, which has become notorious because of frequent accidents, was estimated at around Rs14 billion. While Sindh has already released its share, Rs7 billion, the federal government is unwilling to release the amount. "In the current PSDP they have only allocated Rs2 billon for it," he remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2019.