- Rs 200b allocated for development projects, education sector’s share to go up to Rs 150b while health sector is expected to get an allocation of Rs 66 billion for next fiscal
- ADP estimated at Rs 200b to complete 2,370 ongoing schemes and execute 590 new schemes
Amidst protests by opposition members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Sindh Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah unveiled Sindh Budget 2015-16 in the provincial assembly with a total outlay of Rs 739 billion, Rs 10 to 15 billion as budget deficit and allocation of Rs 200 billion for development projects.
The minister presented the budget and supplementary budget statements for the year 2015-16. He also introduced the Sindh Finance Bill, 2015, which will be considered on Thursday, June 25.
Shah said that all opposition leaders, including Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), submitted their suggestions on the budget and the Sindh government had presented the document with their consultations. He claimed that during the next fiscal year, the government would create 14,210 new jobs in the province; out of them 10,000 would be in police to improve law and order situation.
According to the budget speech, the budget’s outlay is 4 percent higher than the Rs 686 billion presented in the previous fiscal year while the development budget is Rs 6 billion lower than previous year’s.
“We’ve initially estimated Rs 162 billion as Sindh’s Annual Development Programme (ADP) to carry out various development schemes in the province. This amount will increase to over Rs 200 billion after federal government and foreign-funded projects are added to it,” said Shah.
However, non-development expenditures such as salaries and other expenditures may increase to 10 to 15 percent, he said. After Punjab, professional tax rate is likely to be imposed on professionals such as doctors, engineers and consultants, he added.
Cabinet meeting, chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, had already approved the recommendations in the provincial budget 2015-16. The meeting reviewed the recommendations and gave approval to the budget draft which was later presented on the assembly floor.
The funds allocated for development projects also include those schemes which will be completed with the help of federal government and international organisations. No new taxes are said to be added in the budget while a 10 percent raise is expected in the salaries of the government employees.
Moreover, the budget will also be introducing insurance, Ramadan and Eid relief schemes. A loan of Rs 50 billion from International Monetary Fund will also be reviewed for the development of Karachi and Hyderabad divisional headquarters.
The finance minister said the deficit would depend on the inflows from the federal government. He said the government did not release above Rs 46 billion of the year 2014-15 under development projects. He said the federation has promised to give Rs 22 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) but released only Rs 17 billion this year.
The minister said the province would receive around Rs 722 billion through taxes, including receipts from the federal government. The provincial receipts are estimated to be a little over Rs 132 billion compared to Rs 125.06 billion expected last year.
With a 10 to 15 percent increase, the allocation for education sector has been tipped to go up to Rs 150 billion while the health sector is expected to get an allocation of Rs 66 billion for the next fiscal.
According to sources, the allocation for the Sindh Education Foundation has been increased from Rs 2 billion to Rs 3.29 billion while Rs 10 billion has been earmarked for education development schemes, Rs 2 billion for 71 new development schemes and Rs 8 billion for the completion of 124 ongoing schemes.
For the Sindh Technical and Vocational Training Authority, the allocation has been increased from Rs 2 billion to Rs 3.25 billion while a sum of Rs 2 billion has been earmarked for free books.
The provincial minister believes that a sum of Rs 65 billion is being earmarked for law and order with financial allocation for the police at Rs 60 billion and Sindh Rangers’ at Rs 2.44 billion. The Frontier Constabulary will get Rs 1 billion in addition to Rs 5 billion meant for procuring modern weapons. The proposals on law and order include raising a 10,000-men anti-terror force.
An amount of Rs 2 billion is set aside for the local government election in the province while the allocation for local government institutions has been proposed to be at Rs 49 billion.
The Annual Development Program is estimated at Rs 200 billion to complete the 2,370 ongoing schemes and execute 590 new schemes.
Furthermore, the budget has more emphasis on the development sector with planning for modernisation of cities. The increase in allocation for urban projects is aimed at ensuring a better transport system and availability of clean drinking water. For the rural areas, priorities have been accorded to development projects relating to the lining of canals.
A sum of Rs 4 billion has been spared for the K-IV water project and Rs 3 billion for the Rapid Bus Transport System and a light train service for Karachi. The budget is likely to envisage special development packages for Sukkur and Hyderabad.
Establishment of a high-security prison and a DNA laboratory is also likely to get suitable priorities.
The opening day of the budget session was marred by the protest of opposition parties which raised slogans inside the House for 12 minutes before staging a walkout. They returned after about 45 minutes and again protested in the House. However, MQM members did not indulge in any sort of protest and listened to the budget speech silently.
Later on, the House was adjourned till Tuesday.