Continuing to quarrel over water share, the Sindh government and the Centre are now also fighting over the allocation of public sector development funds. The Sindh Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah, complains of “neglect”, “injustice” and “bias” on the part of the federal government over the allocation of funds for development in the coming budget. Anticipating a smaller allocation, the Sindh CM first wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan drawing his attention towards the “discrimination”. And then during a meeting of the National Economic Council, presided over by the PM yesterday to approve the budget proposals, the CM raised a protest over what he called lesser development allocation than in the previous fiscal year.
In response to the CM’s letter to the PM a day before the NEC meeting, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar listed a host of development projects being carried out in Karachi and other parts of Sindh province by the Centre. These include the Green Line bus service and the K-IV water project in Karachi as well as funds set aside for Hyderabad and Sukkur electric power companies, Sindh’s universities, and small dams and water projects. But himself giving weight to the Sindh CM’s claim, Umar also insisted that public funds are meant for the Sindh public and not the government, making it clear that the projects in the province will be executed by the Centre itself rather than the “corrupt” Sindh government.
By the way, executing the projects in a province itself will also give the Centre an added advantage: the projects will carry the PTI label and help the party bolster its vote bank in the province. And this is, in fact, the bone of contention between the Sindh province and the Centre. The two parties will have to rise above their political interests and complement each other’s efforts if they really mean to serve the people of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2021.
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