Sindh Assembly passes Rs1,477bn budget amid protest

Salaries of govt employees up by 20pc; minimum wage set at Rs,25,000; no cut motions moved


Hafeez Tunio June 25, 2021
Sindh Assembly Session. PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI:

The Sindh Assembly on Friday passed a Rs1,477 billion budget for the year 2021-22 amid the opposition's protest.

It was a rare occurrence in the history of the provincial assembly when neither the opposition moved any cut motion to reduce non-development expenditure, nor the leader of the opposition or the chief minister, who happens to be the leader of the House, spoke during the session.

Terming it a deficit, anti-people and an anti-poor budget, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmakers said it had also ignored Karachi and other urban cities in terms of development schemes.

"I held meetings with the opposition to avoid protest and focus on [the] budget. We also gave an opportunity to the opposition members for moving cut motions, but no one seemed interested. Not a single cut motion is received by my office," said Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani while presiding over the session this morning.

"Similarly, I gave the floor to the leader of the opposition to speak on the budget. But he opted for protest. In this situation, we have no other option but to go ahead and pass the budget," Durrani added.

The speaker asked Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah to present the total grants for the next financial year to pass the budget.

Also read Punjab, Sindh budgets

But as the chief minister stood up, the joint opposition started their protest. Amid the noisy session, Murad, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, presented the total grants for the financial year, announcing a 20% increase in the salaries of government employees, while setting the minimum wage in the province to Rs25,000.

In the budget, the provincial government increased the development portfolio by 41 per cent, allocating Rs329 billion for the purpose. Despite the protest, the budget was passed with majority votes.

Later, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah told the media that it was the opposition members who created a pandemonium in the house, compelling the speaker to make such a decision. "Even [the] CM did not speak because of the opposition members' unruly attitude," he added.

Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Sheikh said that for the first time in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, the opposition and specifically the opposition leader of Sindh and parliamentary leaders of the major opposition parties, i.e. PTI and GDA were barred from speaking during the session.

He claimed that Durrani, on the instructions of Murad and his party leadership, had decided to not let the opposition, specifically the opposition leader, whose speech during the budget session is pivotal to the democratic process, speak.

"PPP claims to champion democracy and democratic rights, is ironically not letting me speak during the budget session, which is both my constitutional right and an imperative duty as the opposition leader," Sheikh added,

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