KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), former coalition partner in the last Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government, has been hard on the PPP ministers over the 2013-2014 budget that was unveiled two days back.
MQM’s opposition leader in the provincial assembly, Faisal Subzwari, alleged that the incumbent government had increased the urban-rural divide by ignoring Karachi, which was the economic hub of the country and contributed 71 per cent to the national exchequer. “Karachi is the capital of Sindh but the provincial government has allocated a meagre amount for it in the budget. They cannot ignore it and divert more development schemes and funds to the rural areas,” he said.
Subzwari also criticised the PPP ministers for calling it a “people’s friendly” budget, claiming that the budget was bureaucratic and would provide no relief to the common man.
Senior minister of the PPP, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, said that his party had not ignored Karachi. He said the outgoing government had allocated around Rs50 billion for various projects in the city and the amount remained almost the same under the present government.
Khuhro said that the government was planning on a dual-tract system for circular railways with 24 stations in Karachi. The estimated cost of the project was Rs2.6 billion, which would be managed through a soft loan by the Japan International Corporation Agency. The project would be completed within three to four years.
According to the minister, Rs1,040 million had been allocated for the S-III project (sewerage treatment project) in Karachi and another mega project, K-IV, had been approved for which the provincial government had allocated Rs1,000 million to supply drinking water from River Indus to the citizens of Karachi. Moreover, a mass transit project was also being introduced to provide relief to commuters. “Some people are unnecessarily criticising us to gain cheap publicity which is very unfortunate.” He reiterated that the PPP wants to form a coalition government with the MQM and was waiting for their reponse.
MQM on tax generation
The MQM has rejected the provincial government’s decision to impose new taxes under the budget for the fiscal year 2013-14, instead suggesting that land reforms and tax on agriculture income were better avenues to make money.
Addressing a joint press conference at Sindh Assembly building on Wednesday, MQM’s parliamentary leader, Syed Sardar Ahmed, and opposition leader Subzwari said, “The government cannot trim down the budget deficit of Rs21 billion by simply imposing taxes on internet, broadband services, beauty parlours and restaurants. It can, however, generate a huge amount of Rs3 billion by imposing tax on agriculture income in the province. But, the government is deliberately ignoring this.”
Ahmed also expressed his party’s concern over the government’s decision to collect property tax, saying that the provincial government was exceeding its mandate by taking such a decision.
“The district government should collect the property tax.”
Ahmed stressed the need to set up a provincial finance commission comprising notable persons from various districts to distribute resources without discrimination.
Referring to Rs48 billion budget allocated for law and order, he said, “Good governance and law and order can prevail through drastic reforms in the government set -up and not only by allocating funds.”
“If the government is sincere about bringing good governance then it should implement the 60/40 per cent quota system in government jobs and appoint people purely on merit,” he stressed, referring to the constitutional binding according to which 60 per cent jobs are to be given to people living in rural area and 40 per cent to urban dwellers.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2013.
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