The Sindh government on Saturday presented a deficit budget with a total outlay of Rs869 billion for the fiscal 2016-17 reflecting a rise of 15 per cent as compared to the previous fiscal year.
Finance Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presented the budget during a Sindh Assembly session following its approval by members of the provincial cabinet.
Shah emphasised that their focus in the budget was improving lives of people of the province, facilities being provided to them and economic uplift and stability.
In the budget, the largest allocation was made for education amounting to Rs150 billion while Rs55 billion was reserved for the health sector.
Further, Rs70 billion were allocated for the home department and police, whereas Rs10 billion, termed a special package, was set aside for the provincial capital Karachi.
Meanwhile, Sindh government failed to utilise its development funds as it could spend only Rs86 billion out of Rs162 billion on the sector, with several development projects awaiting to see the light of day.
The provincial government expects to receive Rs561 billion from the Centre as ‘federal transfers’ and Rs78 billion from sales tax on services which is supposed to be recovered by provincial government itself.
The announcement comes a week after federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar unveiled Rs4.42 trillion “pro-agriculture budget,” which also appeared to strike a balance between fiscal consolidation, imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and some incentives for the industrial sector.
Opposition rejects budget
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has rejected the budget terming it anti-people, saying no relief was provided to the masses.
“We completely reject this budget which offered no respite to masses facing hike in the prices of flour, sugar, vegetables and other commodities,” MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan said while talking to media outside Sindh Assembly.
“Neither there was a mention of relief package in the budget for Ramazan nor were any new hospitals or uplift schemes for Thar announced,” Izhar added.
Izhar, who is also leader of the Opposition in Sindh Assembly, also highlighted that the budget did not offer any mega project for Sindh’s rural areas, thus deteriorating them further.
The MQM leader went on to accuse the provincial government of “earning commission through corruption and paving way for mafias involved in this practice.”