Sindh focuses on relief and development

CM Shah unveils Rs3tr balanced budget; pays, pensions raised

Our Correspondent June 15, 2024
Against the budgetary estimate of around Rs4.6 trillion, the Ministry of Finance has now assessed the federal budget deficit at Rs6.22 trillion for the current fiscal year. photo: file


The Sindh government on Friday unveiled a Rs3.056 trillion balanced budget for fiscal year 2024-25, allocating a significantly higher amount for development expenditures and proposing a whopping 22 to 30% salary increase for government employees.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presented the budget in the provincial assembly, which mainly centred on the rehabilitation of flood-affected people, social protection for the poor, and prioritising investment in social services.

The budget outlay marked a 34% increase over the Rs2,282.58 billion budget for the outgoing fiscal year 2023-24. In his budget speech, Chief Minister Shah, who also held the portfolio of finance minister, termed the budget balanced.

Shah said that the total revenues of the province were projected at Rs3 trillion. The major chunk or 62% of the revenues would come through federal transfers, while the share of the provincial receipts would be 22% of the total, he added.

The remaining receipts would come through current capital receipts of Rs22 billion, foreign project assistance of Rs334 billion, other federal grants in the form of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of Rs77 billion, foreign grants of Rs6 billion, and a carryover cash balance of Rs55 billion.

The provincial receipts of Rs662 billion, according to the budget documents, include Rs350 billion from general sales tax (GST) on services, Rs269 billion from

taxes, excluding the GST, and Rs42.9 billion from provincial non-tax receipts.

On the expenditure side, Rs1.9 trillion was allocated for current revenue, Rs184 billion for current capital, and Rs959 billion for development expenditures. The development budget accounted for 31% of the total provincial expenditures. The government would spend Rs6.73 billion on debt servicing.

Among the departmental allocations, education received Rs519 billion, followed by healthcare with Rs334 billion, and local governments with Rs329 billion. Other allocations include Rs58 billion for agriculture, Rs77 billion for energy, Rs94 billion for irrigation and Rs86 billion for services and works.

The chief minister announced salary increase of 22-30% and pension increase of 15% in addition to proposing a hike in the minimum wage to Rs37,000. He also announced the allocation of Rs34.9 billion for pro-poor initiatives, and Rs116 billion in subsidies to ease the financial burden on citizens.

“For employees in [basic scale] BS-7 to 16, a 25% salary boost has been proposed; for those in BS-17 and above, a 22% increase in salary has been proposed,” Shah said. “This remarkable step shall provide a huge relief to the existing staff serving in the non-gazetted category to handle the challenges of inflation.”

The chief minister said that 15% increase in the pensions of retired employees has been proposed. The salary increases of 22-30% and the pension increase of 15% aimed at bolstering financial security of the serving and retired employees.

Shah pointed out that the budget extended its focus beyond immediate relief measures. He added that several new initiatives targeted the long-term development of the province’s economy and social well-being of the people, including Rs8 billion for the Hari Card to support 12 million farmers.

Among the new initiative, Rs5 billion was allocated to build a complex to offer education, rehabilitation, training, accommodation, clinical services, recreation and other facilities within a compound in Karachi’s Korangi area along the Malir Expressway.

Besides, a dedicated Rs5 billion allocation would fund the construction of a new canal to provide water to Karachi. Rs5 billion allocation had been proposed over five years for distribution of solar home systems and Rs5 billion for the launch of Mazdoor Card.

The budget proposed Rs3.75 billion for the improvement of the police force and police stations in the province. The allocation included Rs1.8 billion for the purchase of weapons and Rs200 million for the purchase of special equipment for crowd control.

For the first time, Rs3.75 billion budget has been earmarked to 485 police stations to enable them meet their fuel, repair and maintenance costs, and day-to-day expenditures while serving communities. The initiative aimed at fiscal decentralisation in the police force.

The government would spend Rs4.96 billion for health insurance of the police force, Rs230 million on measures to encourage the police to perform its duties effectively besides Rs100 million for establishing a DNA test facility in Sindh.

Furthermore, Rs212.5 million would be spent on increasing security at jails. The government intended to purchase machinery, hardware, software and arms for the improvement of prisons. The government would spend Rs2.7455 billion on the provision of food to the prisoners.

In the budget, the Sindh government sought to prioritise investment in human capital through grants for education and healthcare. Major grants amounted to a total of Rs190 billion, including Rs35 billion specifically earmarked for universities across Sindh.

The grants would also support major hospitals and medical institutes such as Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT); National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD); Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology (SICHN); Indus Hospital, and trauma centres.

The chief minister said that Rs292 million had been proposed as grant in aid and endowment funds for various press clubs and deserving journalists. Rs66 million was proposed as grant in aid for Sindh Information Commission (SIC), and Rs50 million for journalists and other media practitioners.

Shah said that Rs170 million had been allocated for various religious occasions across the province and a provision of Rs1.557 billion had been earmarked for minority affairs. Rs20 billion was set aside for Ramazan Relief Package 2025, he added.

A lump sum allocation of Rs1 billion was proposed for production of dramas, films, documentaries etc. This initiative, Shah said, aimed at reviving the “showbiz industry of Sindh and attracting new talent”. In the end, he said “we have untapped resources and unlimited potential”.




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