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June 6, 2017

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Sindh unveils Rs1.04 trillion budget; record allocation for health, education

Sindh unveils Rs1.04 trillion budget; record allocation for health, education

KARACHI: Breaking with tradition, Sindh chief minister spoke about the electricity crisis prevalent across the country before he commenced his budget speech in the provincial legislature on Monday.

CM Syed Murad Ali Shah told the House that the people of Sindh were subjected to frequent loadshedding and unannounced power cuts despite the fact that the province produced 70 per cent of the gas in the country and had cleared all of its outstanding electricity dues. 

He said long duration of power outages were making people's lives miserable, adding the federal government was discriminating against the province. Later, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presented the budget 2017/2018 with a record outlay of Rs1.04 trillion without any new tax measures for the next fiscal year.

The total expenditures of the province for the fiscal year 2017/2018 have been estimated at Rs1,043.18 billion and the total revenue pitched at Rs1,028.86 billion, showing a deficit of Rs14.32 billion.

On the floor of the house, the chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of finance ministry, highlighted the key allocations for the next fiscal year, which included: salary and pension bill increase by 10 percent; grants to local bodies enhanced by 10 percent to Rs66 billion; allocations for police department enhanced by 10 percent to Rs81 billion; allocations for health increased by 38 percent; education budget enhanced by 13 percent; and repair and maintenance budget raised by 5.8 percent to Rs26.59 billion.

The chief minister announced an increase on 15 percent in the basic salary of all employees in the next fiscal year. He said that the total revenue receipt estimate showed an increase of 19.3 percent over the budget estimate of Rs854.5 billion for the outgoing fiscal year. Receipts from the Federal Government on account of revenue assignment, straight transfer and grants are estimated at Rs627.3 billion.

Murad Ali Shah said that receipts from the federal government are 61.5 percent of the total receipts of the province. The receipts of Federal PSDP are estimated at Rs27.3 billion. Receipts on account of Foreign Project Assistance (FPA), budgetary support loans and grants are estimated at Rs42.7 billion. Receipts from provincial own sources, including tax and non-tax receipts, are estimated at Rs199 billion. The targets of provincial own sources have been increased by 16.5 percent.

Highlighting the estimates of development expenditure for the Financial Year 2017-2018 that are pitched at Rs274 billion, he said: “This allocation is unprecedented and an all-time high,” the chief minister said.

He said that it was the responsibility of a government to create employment opportunities and creation of opportunities should be carefully planned. “During our tenure, we have only made appointments based on need while ensuring meritocracy. For next financial year, we have created around 49000 posts,” he said.

The major impact is on the already employed but abandoned Lady Health Workers. Over 25,000 employees of Lady Health Workers program will be incorporated in service of Sindh. Besides, 10,000 personnel will be recruited in the Sindh Police.

In order to ensure payment of dues to power utilities, the chief minister said that the provincial government had kept a provision of Rs15 billion for clearance of electricity dues of K-Electric, HESCO and SEPCO. During his speech, he harshly criticized the federal government for not fulfilling the promise of giving uninterrupted electricity supply. The chief minister said that the federal government was alleging that loadshedding was due to non-payment. “The Sindh government paid Rs27 billion by February 2017 to clear all the electricity payment outstanding,” he said.

The chief minister said that the provincial government had increased allocation for the agriculture sector from Rs12.75 billion to Rs14.13 billion. Similarly, the provincial government earmarked Rs40.4 billion for the irrigation sector during the next fiscal year.

The chief minister said that the rehabilitation of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) had been included in the CPEC at an investment cost of $2.4 billion. For the next year, the provincial government allocated Rs241 million for the construction of boundary fencing along the existing alignment of the KCR.

Highlighting the revised estimates for the outgoing fiscal year, he said that against an estimated budgetary amount of Rs854.5 billion, the revised receipts of the province for the current financial year 2016-17 stand at Rs873.9 billion. He said that the provincial government was facing a shortfall on account of federal transfers.

During 10 months of this financial year against the budgeted receipts of Rs456 billion the transfers were only Rs382 billion. Based on these figures, the provincial government will be facing a shortfall of Rs95 billion at the end of this financial year.

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