KARACHI: The federal government owes Sindh Rs45 billion for development projects, said Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah on Tuesday.
The shortfall is being felt in a number of departments, he added while talking to the media at the end of the cabinet session outside the New Sindh Secretariat. Nevertheless, the province is trying to get the money, Shah said, and should receive at least Rs11 billion from the centre by June 30.
The CM was accompanied by adviser on information, Jameel Soomro, Sindh law minister Ayaz Soomro and adviser on planning and development Qaiser Bengali among others. Discussing Sindh’s coal reserves, Shah told media personnel that the cabinet has approved the joint project with the al Abbas group for coal exploration in Badin.
Mentioning that some cabinet members had reservations about the project, Shah said that they were removed after a sub-committee was formed to deal with the issue. The project would generate employment in the region, he added, claiming that more than 6,000 people would be employed and a further 30,000 families would gain a means of living. Moreover, the quality of the coal is very good, according to the Chinese company working there, Shah said.
Progress has also been made on the Thar coal project and a local company is working to build a power plant that will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Budget calculations were also finalised in the cabinet session, said the chief minister. The financial committee will forward them to the Sindh Assembly for approval.
In the past, more than 80 per cent of the budget was delivered in the last two months of the fiscal year along with pressure to spend the money quickly, the CM said. However, this time would be different with 50 per cent of the budget released in the first few months of the year so that the development work could continue unaffected.
Out of the Rs75 billion for development programme, Rs15 billion were given to the district governments, Shah said. Referring to a question on conflicts in Monday’s cabinet session, Shah said, “I have had no disagreements with any ministers, the media has just exaggerated events.” He added that he left early to attend an NFC Award meeting in Quetta.
Shah also touched upon sales taxes, saying that it should be collected by the provincial government. “We are fully capable to do this.” Sindh will benefit greatly in the next budget that will be based on the multicriteria of the new NFC Award, he said.
As for local government, Shah said that they are trying to schedule the next general elections according to the Local Government Ordinance 2010 but the ordinances of 2001 and 1979 are also being considered, which is why the process is taking so long. He said that Sindh would pass a law only after consensus from all the allied parties. Shah also dismissed rumours about change in the Sindh cabinet. “It is working well and change is not on the cards,” he said.