By Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the Sindh Chief Minister and Finance and P and D minister, presented Rs.267.76 billion budget for 2008-09 on 16th June 2008 in the Sindh Assembly showing a deficit of Rs.14 billion to be met through revenue increase, austerity measures and an expected transfer of gas development surcharge from the Centre to the province.
A current revenue expenditure of Rs 180.9 billion and a total development outlay of Rs.77.31 billion have been estimated.The development out lay consists of Provincial Annual development plan of Rs.55 billion, allocation for district governments Rs.12 billion. Drought Emergency relief assistance Rs.510 million, Foreign aided project Rs.4.35, Sindh devolved Social Services program Rs.2.73 billion, Sindh cities Improvement Progress Rs.2 billion and other faderal grants Rs.12 billion.0.1 percent stamp duty levied in the 2006 finance bill on par value of each electronically transfered share in Karachi Stock Exchange has been withdrawn.0.3 percent increase has been announced on infrastructure cess which is 0.5 percent on imported goods at present stipulating various slabs for infratructure cess on imported goods.The revenue expenditure of Rs.180.9 billion consists of Rs.102.99 billion for provincial government and Rs.77.98 billion for district governments.Rs177.5 billion will be recieved from the federal government through transfer of funds as the divisible pool of taxes.The receipts for Oil and Gas show negative growth although there is 26 percent increase in last five years in its production.Sindh’s own revenue collection improved during the current fiscal year and it is expected to stand at Rs.30 billion in 2008-09.Due to continued financial loans granted by the world Bank and Asian Development Bank under various reforms and investment programme, a surplus of Rs.5.5 billion has been estimated at the capital side of the budget as against receipts of Rs.15 billion, the capital expenditure is Rs.9.5 billion for 2008-09.A 20 percent increase has been announced in salaries and pensions of employees of Sindh government raising the pay bill by Rs.10 billion which is already being paid to five lac employees up to Rs.60 billion.About 3500 fresh employees will be recruited in police costing Rs.21.3 billion including the purchase of vehicles, arms and ammunation.Rs.one billion have been earmarked for the purchase of Surveillance Cameras and other equipment for the police force.
To bring the wages of Sindh police at par with that of Punjab police, an additional expenditure of Rs.570 million has been reserved for its sanction.Some salient features of the Sindh budget are:
For Water and Power Rs.18.2 billion
For Education Rs.19.5 billion
For Health Rs.10.5 billion
For Water and Sanitation Rs.1.12 billion
From the above facts and figures, it has been apparent that in the SIndh budget no funds have been allocated for the development of rural areas which are already suffering from any development in the field of maintenance of law and order situation, roads, electricity, gas, health and educational facilities due to negligent attitude of the previous Government of Dictator in which only the development work was done in Karachi where not a huge amount but the whole Sindh budget was spent.In Karachi also, every road and street was dismantled and dug which are still in the process of completion and at many places and areas they have left unattended to and putting the Public in to great turmoil and mishap.Secondly, the agricultural Sector has continuously been neglected during the previous regime.No separate funds have so far been allocated for its development, innovation and modern technological operations.Thirdly, as complained by the Chief Minister in his budget speech, no gas royality has been raised to the level of increased production level of Gas extracted and explored from Sindh.it seems the negligence of the previous regime which did not bother to get the rights from the federal Government for which proper strategy should have been adopted.Fourthly, during the decade no employment was made from the rural areas and educated people of rural areas remained unemployed.It is therefore the first and foremost duty of the present Awami Government to meet the deficiency and get the educated unemployed persons,employed in the province and Centre Government.Fifthly, it is tragic to observe from the budget that there has been no mention of the establishment of Sindh Bank as announced by the CM in his first speech just after taking the oath as CM.For the Sindh Bank, the previous CM had also advertised three times in the Daily NewspaperS and a lot of Spade work had also been done but God knows who is the giant against the establishment of Sindh Bank.Sixthly, the special Relief Fund allocated for relief of poor people of Sindh every year since 2005, no mention to continue the allocation of this fund puts the people in a great grief that as to why this fund has not so far been allocated although the Finance Department of Sindh has shown its inability to disburse this fund amongst the needy distressed people of Sindh rather they have kept this huge amount of Rs.10 billion allocated during 2005,2006 and 2007 years at the rate of Rs.3 billion each year.