‘Sindh may not achieve new targets as Centre slashes funds’

CM claims federal govt failed to reach tax targets due to ‘incompetence’


Hafeez Tunio June 27, 2020
Syed Murad Ali Shah. PHOTO: PPP

KARACHI: The Sindh government may not be able to achieve the targets estimated in the 2020-21 budget because of the federal government’s intention of cutting its due share of funds, worried Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday.

Concluding the budget debate spanning several days - and much uproar - in the Sindh Assembly, Shah stated that the provincial government had allocated Rs2.24 trillion for the upcoming fiscal year while it was estimated to receive Rs760 billion from the Centre.

“The federal government did not achieve its tax collection targets in the outgoing year owing to incompetence,” he alleged. “If this continues, a financial crisis will grip the country as we will not be able to disburse salaries to our employees.”

He claimed that around 72 per cent of Sindh’s budget came from the Centre, while the rest was generated by the province itself, adding that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa depended on the federal government for 92 per cent of its funds while Punjab received 85 per cent of its budget from Islamabad.

While Shah has repeatedly criticised the federal government for failing to release Sindh’s due share in the 2019-20 fiscal year, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders have pointed out that the province was not the only one to have its share slashed amid budget constraints.

Responding to the opposition’s contention that no funds were allotted for Karachi in the new budget, he insisted that Rs600 million to Rs700 million would be spent on the metropolis. “Though we have decided to finish 700 ongoing schemes, Karachi is the only city that will get a share in new schemes too,” he insisted, criticising opposition MPAs for not reading the budget books. “This is my city too,” he added.

Lashing out at the Centre for stopping funding for the K-IV water project, he said both the province and the federal government had a share in funding it. “They have cited corruption as a reason to stop funding it. I want to inform them the contract has been given to the Frontier Works Organisation. Why not ask them about it?”

The CM further refuted opposition claims that people were dying of hunger in Sindh. “I don’t claim that the situation is ideal, but I can claim here that no one has died of hunger,” he insisted.

Asking why the prime minister was not taking action against the ‘sugar mafia,’ he expressed the belief that the PTI government’s days were numbers as it had failed to deliver on its promises, with even its coalition partners unhappy about its performance. “There is crisis in everything in the country now, be it sugar, petrol or other commodities.”

Earlier, opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, levelling serious allegations against the Sindh government in his speech, claimed that it was not the Centre that had looted the province’s resources but the PPP and its ministers.

Naqvi, who began his speech on Thursday evening and wrapped it up on Friday morning, maintained the PPP government had not fulfilled even a single promise made in its budget papers. “Then-CM Qaim Ali Shah announced the provision of 100,000 jobs. Where are these jobs?”

Highlighting severe malnutrition in Tharparkar, he said 73 per cent of the districts suffered from it, with several of them dying as a result. He added that only 26 per cent of girls were able to obtain education in rural Sindh.

Following the speeches, the speaker said the Sindh budget for the upcoming fiscal year and supplementary budget for the outgoing year would be passed on Saturday.

Virus strikes again

Meanwhile, another PTI MPA, Arsalan Taj Hussain, tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday. He had been attending the assembly session for several days. The previous day, PTI lawmaker Shahzad Qureshi was also diagnosed with the virus. He too had been present at recent assembly sessions.

As many as 28 MPAs have contracted coronavirus to date. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2020.

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