The City Council on Tuesday approved a Rs27.16 billion budget for Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for the fiscal year 2018-19 amid vociferous protest by the opposition.
Mayor Wasim Akhtar presented the budget in a speech in the City Council session at the KMC building as chants rose from the opposition benches calling him a thief, asking for accountability and rejecting the budget.
Treasury council members belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also chanted slogans against Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari in response calling him a thief. The ruckus drowned out the mayor’s speech for a few minutes.
Council members belonging to opposition parties tore up copies of the budget document, stood on their seats while chanting slogans against the mayor and then staged a walkout in protest. Interestingly, members of Jamiat Ulema-Islam and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf did not participate in the opposition’s boycott and remained seated.
The total receipts for the upcoming fiscal year stand at an estimated Rs26.17 billion, including Rs19.21 billion current receipts and Rs1.89 billion capital receipts.
The total expenditure for fiscal year 2018-19 will be Rs27.16 billion of which Rs13.31 billion has been allocated for the establishment, Rs2.11 billion for contingent expenses and Rs217.16 million for repair and maintenance.
Moreover, Rs5.46 billion has been earmarked for development projects, while expenditures from the provincial and district Annual Development Programme would amount to an estimated Rs6.05 billion.
Mayor Akhtar said no new tax had been levied in the budget, and that focus had remained on making the existing revenue resources better and keeping the budget realistic and balanced.
According to the mayor, despite financial constraints, the city government was presenting a Rs11.5 billion development budget for the next year, which includes uplift schemes suggested by elected representatives in the council.
Akhtar said a total of 206 district ADP schemes were completed during the ongoing fiscal year at a cost of Rs4.32 billion in all districts of Karachi and the district council remits, while 194 new schemes were planned for the next year for Rs5.62 billion to raise the city’s development portfolio further.
The mayor said that because of his government’s continued efforts to make development resources available for the city, they were able to secure the Rs25 billion package from the prime minister, under which several uplift projects will be carried out next year. These include the reconstruction of Manghopir Road from Jam Chakro to Banaras, the construction of flyovers alongside Shershah Suri Road, Sakhi Hassan, Five Star Roundabout and KDA Chowrangi and the reconstruction of Nishter Road from Teen Hatti to Napier Road as well as the rehabilitation and upgradation of existing fire-fighting system in KMC.
Akhtar expressed hope that with the availability of more funds from various sources, large scale infrastructure development will be seen in the city in the next few years.
During the proceedings, members of the council expressed their views and informed about the problems people in their constituencies were facing. The mayor assured them that he will write to the local government department to increase their union council funds.