Sindh’s new budget ignores Karachi’s uplift, claims opposition

By Our Correspondent
June 23, 2024
A view of the Sindh Assembly floor during a session on May 9, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP

Opposition legislators in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh on Saturday complained that the cause of the development of Karachi has been ignored in the newly presented provincial government budget.


They were taking part in the ongoing general discussion in the House on the Sindh government budget for the financial year 2024-25 that continued for a third day, with PA Speaker Syed Awais Qadir Shah in chair.

Treasury lawmakers who took part in the general discussion said the provincial government has unveiled a balanced budget for the new financial year despite facing serious economic problems.

The lawmakers belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) expressed optimism that the masses in the province would be the ultimate beneficiaries of the new provincial budget.

PPP lawmaker Hina Dastagir said that the new provincial budget reflects the resolve of the ruling party to deliver to the people of the province. She claimed that education is the topmost priority of the provincial government.

PPP MPA Rana Hamir Singh told the House that the ruling party has improved the living conditions of the people in Thar. He said the provincial government has built more than 50 small dams to help start cultivation on thousands of acres of farmlands.

PPP legislator Mahmood Alam Jamote urged the provincial government to expand the scope of the newly launched Peoples Housing Scheme for constructing proper residences for the fishermen on the coastal belt of the province.

He said the government should ensure that industrial waste and effluents are not discharged into the sea so that the marine environment along Karachi’s coast can be protected.

PPP lawmaker Pir Mujeeb praised the decisions of the provincial government to allocate the maximum fiscal resources available to it to complete the ongoing development projects in the best interest of the people.

He also hailed the decision of the provincial government to increase the minimum monthly wage of labourers to benefit the underprivileged families.

PPP MPA Qasim Siraj Soomro said the provincial government has massively increased the budget of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre to provide the best healthcare facilities to the patients in Karachi.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) legislator Sheikh Abdullah complained that there is no ample allocation in the new provincial budget for building sporting facilities to promote healthy recreational facilities among people.

He lamented that the Surjani Town area of Karachi is more backward than the impoverished Lyari neighbourhood of the city. He said residents of Surjani Town have been living without the facility of a hospital.

He also said that the building of a technical education college had been completed in the area sometime ago, but the vocational training facility is yet to be started.

MQM-P lawmaker Naseer Khan mentioned that the people of the city had rejected the PPP in the last general elections. He said his electoral constituency comprises 28 goths, whose residents do not have the facility of clean drinking water.

He claimed that the provincial government has been taking huge loans from international donor agencies in the name of Karachi’s development, but the same are not being spent on the provincial capital.

MQM-P MPA Sikandar Khatoon said that more public sector engineering and medical colleges should be built in the province. She complained that the new Sindh government budget has not allocated funds for the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital despite it being the largest healthcare facility in District Central.

Sunni Ittehad Council legislator Wajid Khan said the Sindh government has not allocated ample funds for the provision of potable water facilities to the residents of Karachi. He also lamented that the government had not provided any relief package to underprivileged people last year in Ramazan.

MQM-P lawmaker Faisal Rafique said the Sindh government should maximise its earnings through the farm tax, given that agriculture is a vast portion of the provincial economy. He lamented that the provincial government has collected merely Rs2 billion in revenue under the farm tax.

As the legislature had commenced the general discussion on the newly presented provincial government budget on Thursday, a PPP lawmaker’s remarks that were highly critical of the performance of her party’s government in Sindh ruffled the feathers of her fellow legislators on the treasury benches.

PPP MPA Bibi Yasmeen Shah, who was elected on a seat reserved for women in the PA, lamented that there is not a single public educational institution in her home town Badin whose existence can make her feel proud. She said that some of the government-run primary schools in District Badin are being used as pens to keep domesticated animals.

She pointed out that according to the academic standards, every set of 20 students in a school should be taught by one teacher, but at various public schools in Badin, every teacher is assigned more than 100 students, gravely affecting their education.

She also lamented that doctors have been posted to public health facilities in Badin but have not been performing their duties due to a sheer lack of monitoring by the government authorities.

She said a heart patient from Badin needs to travel for an hour to get emergency treatment at the nearest cardiac care facility affiliated with the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) in Tando Muhammad Khan.

She pointed out that this often proves fatal due to the unavailability of immediate lifesaving intervention in the district. She demanded that an NICVD-linked treatment facility be built in Badin to save the lives of heart patients in the area.

She also said she found conditions at the Civil Hospital Badin highly distressing when she paid a surprise visit to the major health facility in her area. Her remarks in the House were often punctuated by the thumping of desks by the opposition lawmakers.

The PA speaker apparently attempted in vain to cut her speech short by reminding her that the time allocated to her for delivering a speech in the House had ended.

Delivering his speech, MQM-P MPA Muhammad Dilawar said people in his constituency comprising residential areas in Karachi’s District South have suffered a lot due to chronic water supply and sewerage system issues.

Dilawar said the provincial government has completely failed in delivering basic civic facilities and amenities to the residents of District South despite the fact that it is home to top government installations, and head offices of several banking, commercial and financial institutions like State Bank, State Life and Stock Exchange.

He said the provincial government should ensure the earliest completion of the K-IV project without putting the entire blame on Islamabad for the undue delay in the commissioning of the vital bulk water supply scheme for Karachi.

MQM-P legislator Rashid Khilji complained that the budget of the Civil Hospital Hyderabad has been curtailed. He lamented that there has been no increase in the water quota for the residents of Hyderabad.

Khilji said that free-of-charge textbooks have not been supplied to the students at government-run schools, contrary to the promise made by the educational authorities.

MQM-P lawmaker Bilquees Mukhtar said Karachi has been facing a massive water shortfall daily. She said injustice should not be done to the residents as they live in the capital city of Sindh.

She lamented that the newly unveiled Sindh government budget does not give preference to resolving serious water woes of Karachiites. She said the K-IV bulk water supply scheme should have been completed in 10 years in accordance with the initial plan of the government.

She also said that the basic rights of the residents of Karachi should be fulfilled while considering that the provincial capital has been generating resources for the financial well-being of the entire country.