KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday stated that the federal government of Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N), in terms of water, power and federal transfers, has unleashed a policy to crush Sindh and its people and “this is a political agenda.”
This he said today while addressing a crowded press conference at his Sindh Assembly Chamber.
He said that there are three main areas in which the federal government has started penalizing the people of Sindh: prolonged load-shedding, water shortage and failure to release federal funds reserved for Sindh. This, he said, is not affecting the day to day affairs of the province but is also crippling the agro-industrial economy of Sindh.
Talking about the prolonged load-shedding, the chief minister said that he has written two letters to the prime minister and talked to him on telephone for at least six times to draw his attention towards the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Karachi-Electric (KE) dispute which has turned into over 12- hour prolonged load-shedding in the city. The industrialists are being forced to shut down their industrial units, he further said.
The chief minister said that the prime minister told him that he had called both the entities, SSGC and KE. “I heaved a sigh of relief believing that the matter would be settled soon but the prime minister instead of listening and directing both the parties personally, deputed Mifta Ismail to settle the dispute,” he said and added that when he called Miftah on his cell phone it was playing a message that “he is out of country”.
He said that SSGC claims that there is a total of Rs29 billion outstanding amount that KE owes to the company in arrears due to which SSGC had to reduce the gas supply to KE from 276 Mmcfd to 90 mmcfd. However, he said that this reduction in gas pressure has resulted in the closure of four gas-based power plants of KE generating electricity, causing more than 12-hour load shedding.
The chief minister said that when the SSGC’s claim of Rs29 billion outstanding dues was audited, it turned that only Rs13 billion was the principal amount that was owed, and the remaining amount was late payment and interest.
He added that the KE was ready to pay clear the old amount in installments with full current payment of the gas. Now, the court has also directed the SSGC to supply 276 mmcfd gas to KE. “This is your dispute since your federal government has 73 percent shares in SSGC and 24 percent shares in KE, you get it settled, why you are penalising people of Karachi,” the chief minister questioned from the federal government.
The CM said that power outage also affects water supply in Karachi because pumping stations get tripped.
Talking about load shedding in rural areas of the province, the chief minister said that averagely 16 hours prolonged load shedding is being done in Shaheed Benazirabad, 14 hours in Sukkur, 12 hours in Mirpurkhas, 16 hours in Larkana, 14 hours in Hyderabad and 18 hours in his home Distt Jamshoro. “This shows how much severe the vendetta of the federal government is against the people of Sindh because since the 1970s they have been voting PPP to power,” he said.
Discussing the transfer of funds to Sindh by the federal government, the chief minister said that so far the federal government still needs to pay a sum of Rs94 billion to the Sindh government that it has not paid yet.
“This has caused serious problems with the financial health of the provincial government,” he said and added this is why he has curtailed development expenditure “ because we can’t curtail salary expenditures,” he said.
He said that it is the inefficiency of the federal government that it could not achieve its tax recovery targets. As far as the Sindh government is concerned, its collections are close to the targets. The Sindh Revenue Board and Excise & Taxation Department would achieve their recovery target, he vowed.
The chief minister said that some people against load shedding and water shortage are planning to stage a sit-in at CM House. “You have every right to protest against non-provision of utility services but “I would invite all political parties to come together and stage a sit-in in front of PM House and I’ll be with you,” he said.
While addressing the issue of water shortage, the chief minister said that the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) had conveyed that there would be 20 percent water shortages but the shortages reached to 36 percent. “I don’t know the water shortage was natural or it was theft,” he questioned.