KARACHI: The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) presented its budget of Rs26.449 billion for the next fiscal year 2019-20 on Thursday. The budget was presented in the KMC Council by the Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar.
Deputy Mayor Syed Arshad Hassan and Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saifur Rehman were also present on the occasion.
According to the proposed budget, the biggest source of income KMC is the share given by the provincial government, which amounts to over Rs12.938b. Meanwhile, the KMC is also expected to receive Rs4.341b on account of the district and provincial district Annual Development Plan (ADP).
The KMC has reserved funds for 700 development projects in the budget for the next fiscal year. These largely include projects of roads and infrastructure development, for which a total of Rs1697.7 million have been reserved.
Similarly, Rs42.65m have been reserved for municipal services, Rs35m have been reserved for seven projects of transport and communication, Rs270.1m for 62 schemes for the provision of health facilities, Rs403.5 for 103 projects of culture, tourism, sports and amusement, Rs45.050 for eight projects of information technology and Rs833m for new schemes in various sectors.
Addressing the council, the mayor said it was unfortunate that the city’s issues were increasing while the budget was decreasing.
Akhtar took exception to the provincial government’s move to decrease Rs1.67b in the ADP, saying it had caused a decrease in the KMC’s budget compared to the previous year. The provincial government has cut the budget by Rs1.67b, despite a Rs2b increase in its NFC award, said the mayor.
“The move was taken without regard for the fact that Karachi brings in Rs400 billion in revenues for the government,” said the mayor, adding that it was difficult to chalk out a budget for the city owing to the intense financial crisis and limited powers.
The biggest source of income for the KMC is the grant made by the provincial government, but the funds aren’t even enough to cover the salaries, he said.
During 2018-19, the provincial government had reserved Rs5 billion for development programs while the KMC had planned 401 schemes in its budget. However, the government only released Rs2.5b, due to which only 64 schemes could be completed.
The Government of Sindh has cut the next fiscal year’s budget of Rs5 billion to Rs3.33 billion. “While preparing the budget for KMC, however, we have emphasised on our plan to complete the most crucial projects of Karachi owing to its deplorable condition,” said the mayor. This would ensure immediate respite for the citizens as funds have been earmarked for 700 schemes, which is 300 schemes more than that in the outgoing fiscal year. The largest number of projects relate to roads and infrastructure.
“I am sure that work on these schemes will commence from the next fiscal year and we will be able to complete most of the projects,” said the mayor, adding that the development projects would lead to a substantial change in the city’s landscape.
Outgoing fiscal year
For the first time in its history, the KMC has ordered 50 fire tenders and two bowsers at a cost of over Rs1 billion during the outgoing fiscal year. Fire brigade equipment costing Rs160 million was also procured.
During 2018-19, the KMC installed over 1600 street lights on various roads while the installation of lights was also completed on the Malir Causeway. The Zulfiqarabad Oil Tankers Parking Terminal was made functional after a lapse of several years while shops were awarded to 918 people at the terminal.
During the same year, equipment worth Rs20 million was procured for the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, while supplies amounting to Rs100 million for the hospital were also purchased. “We inherited all the hospitals in a pathetic state but we not only improved their condition but also added a hospital for the city,” he said. “We also fulfilled the necessary requirements to give the Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) the status of a university,” he added.
The establishment of the Karachi Institute of Kidney Disease is a big milestone as it provides free dialysis facilities to 75 patients every day, said the mayor. Moreover, several development projects under the Prime Minister’s Package will be completed by next year which includes three flyovers in addition to several roads. Work is also under way to transform the Karachi Zoo and Safari Parks as the best facilities for leisure. The construction of a park near Empress Market has also commenced. Parks have also been built in various neighborhoods of the city. The Gulshan Jinnah Polo Ground has been reopened after refurbishment while Kidney Hill Park and Hill Part have been retrieved from encroachers, the mayor briefed.
“Karachi faces innumerable problems despite being the biggest city in the country. It appears that Karachi is devoid of any system of water supply and sewage,” said Akhtar. “The system that was installed 50 years ago has been devastated. The available resources have been diverted to slum areas due to which all towns present the same look.,” he added. Over 50% of the population inhabits the city without planning for which we do not even have infrastructure, he said. “The city produces hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage which gets collected in various streets and roads of Karachi. The elected representatives are not permitted to lift and dispose of garbage,” he lamented.
The mayor expressed the regret that that the municipal control of the city lay with over a dozen and a half organisations. “A city is being governed by three municipal and three development institutions only for the sake of disempowering the KMC and taking over its control,” he said.
After the mayor’s speech, the budget session was adjourned till Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2019.