KARACHI: Terming the new provincial budget a ‘jugglery of words,’ opposition members in the Sindh Assembly lashed out at the Sindh government for its failure to mobilise development funds and complete vital schemes in the province on Saturday.
At the first assembly session after the budget’s presentation, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Rashid Khilji dismissed the pandemic as an excuse for lack of development. “The pandemic emerged in February. Where did the trillions of rupees allocated in the last 12 years go? There is no development on the ground,” he remarked.
Highlighting the state of Larkana, the MPA said the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) bastion looked like a slum. “For many years, we have been hearing about the Larkana industrial zone scheme, but the project appears to exist only in the government’s books.”
Grand Democratic Alliance lawmaker Abdul Razzak Rahimoon drew the house’s attention towards what he called political victimization. “For many years, development schemes have been launched in the ruling party’s constituencies, while those of opposition parties are ignored.”
Insisting that no development projects had been announced for Tharparkar, he said that whenever the issue of the desert district was raised, the PPP quoted funds given to a hospital in Mithi.
“Tharparkar is not just Mithi, it is a vast area,” he stressed, adding that the Sindh government claimed to have installed reverse osmosis plants in Tharparkar to provide potable water to its people, but almost all plants were non-functional.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Dr Imran Shah maintained they would not accept the ‘budget lollipop,’ claiming that most of the funds allocated in budgets over the 12 year had either lapsed or not been utilised. “If you look at the budget papers, you will find 192 schemes continuing since 2016. Why have these schemes not been completed?” He added that major government hospitals were short of medicines. “Where does the budget go if the government cannot even provide medicine to patients?”
Bringing up the sidelining of the women development department in the budget, PTI’s Adeeba Hassan said not a single rupee had been earmarked for this department, while the majority of laws on women’s rights passed by the Sindh Assembly lay ignored too.
Members of the treasury benches, though, insisted that the budget was a balanced one. Sadhumal Surendar Valasai of the PPP stated that it was Sindh which increased the salaries of government employees, who had been overlooked by the Centre. He further criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for failing to release Sindh’s due share of revenue.
Another PPP lawmaker, Seemi Soomro, lambasted PM Khan too. “He talks of austerity, but his visit to Larkana was an eye-opener,” she insisted, claiming that he had enjoyed 130 dishes in a lavish luncheon arranged by the PTI.
Meanwhile, the ruling party’s Taj Muhammad Mallah expressed the belief that the Sindh chief minister’s timely decisions amid the pandemic had saved thousands of lives. “The situation would have been under control if the Centre had not allowed the reopening of markets.”
Referring to those who had been protesting for rations amid the lockdown, though, PTI’s Raja Azhar lashed out at ‘corruption’ within the provincial food department. “People are committing suicide out of hunger, but the government has created an artificial shortage of wheat,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2020.