The cash-starved Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), which regularly fails to pay salary to its employees, unveiled a surplus budget of Rs35.59 billion for the fiscal year 2013-14 on Wednesday. The size of the budget was 12.6 per cent more than the outlay for the preceding year. No new taxes have been imposed in this year’s budget.
Heavily dependent on financing from the federal and provincial governments, the civic body has allocated Rs19.12 billion for development projects with current receipts pitched at Rs23.3 billion, capital receipts at Rs2.89 billion and district annual development plan at Rs9.3 billion.
Presenting the budget, KMC administrator, Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, said that the population of Karachi has soared to over 20 million and the municipal bodies are facing a challenging task in addressing the civic issues of the metropolis. He said the increase in salaries of employees has also added to the financial burdens of the corporation, while the federal and provincial governments have not raised the share of the Octroi contracts. “This has led to a financial crisis in the corporation,” he added.
He reminded that unless the metropolitan status of Karachi is not recognised it will be difficult to address the civic and other problems of the city. Despite the challenges, Zaidi said that the body hoped they would end up with a surplus of Rs 101.1 million over the next year.
Unlike the previous budget, engineering, which includes new bridges and roads, has been allocated the lion’s share of Rs9.5 billion to help overcome the chronic traffic issues of the city while health and education does not seem to figure on the priority list of the corporation. The regular traffic gridlocks were not helped by the fact that the four flyovers on Sharae Pakistan could not be completed in time (February 2013).
Engineering is followed by the provincial and district Annual Development Programme for which Rs7.32 billion have been set aside while health and education have been allocated Rs4.63 billion and Rs2.96 billion respectively.
Other significant allocations include Rs2.74 billion for municipal services, Rs1.1 billion for five district municipal corporations, Rs1.4 billion for parks and horticulture and Rs1.1 billion for transport and communication while a consolidated sum of Rs884.3 million has been earmarked for debt servicing, expenditure on pension fund, Orangi Town project, enforcement, charged parking and LARP.
Other allocations included Rs738.01 million for metropolitan and administration secretariats, Rs600.21 million for information technology, Rs577.50 million for culture and sports, Rs400.18 million for finance and accounts, Rs320.97 million for Karachi mass transit cell, Rs212.07 million for the master plan, Rs75.699 for law, Rs52.37 million for enterprise and investment promotion and Rs1.96 million for literacy.
Karachi Strategic Development plan 2020
About the provision of better infrastructure and utility services to the citizens, Zaidi said that ‘Karachi Strategic Development Plan 2020’ has been devised which contains the strategic framework for future planning.
He announced that they have set a target of three more flyovers for the current fiscal year and the body plans to spend Rs530 million on flyovers at Malir number 15 and Malir Halt. To solve the perennial parking problem faced by the citizens, KMC has decided to build two underground parking plazas near Civic Centre and Clifton at a cost of Rs120 million each. Other allocations include Rs460 million for Surjani KDA scheme and Rs390 million for North Karachi Township Scheme. Interestingly, similar amounts were allocated for these projects last year but none of them could be completed.
KMC also wants to increase the web of parks around the city and has allocated Rs390 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2013.
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