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February 5, 2019

Sindh faces shortfall of Rs104bn in federal transfers, says CM


February 5, 2019

The provincial government has witnessed a shortfall of Rs104 billion in the federal transfers this fiscal year.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this while talking to media persons on Monday after attending a convention organised by a health organisation in Gadap.

“This declining trend is bound to affect our cash flow and development endeavour,” the CM remarked. Responding to a question, he said during the current fiscal year, the federal government had transferred funds to the provincial government which were Rs104 billion less than the latter’s share.

“Last [fiscal] year, the federal government had transferred Rs266 billion during the first seven months and this year they have transferred only Rs256 billion,” Shah maintained. He surprised media persons by saying that it was the first time in the history of Pakistan that the federal transfers to Sindh had decreased than the previous year.

Comparing the current year to the last year, the CM said the federal government transferred Rs56 billion in January 2018, whereas, in January this year the Centre transferred only Rs38 billion. He remarked that this declining trend was dangerous and would affect the commitments, cash flow and development portfolio of the provincial government. “Looking at the federal transfers’ trend, I have stopped development endeavour,” he added.

Shah said he had heard that the federal government had badly failed to achieve its revenue collection targets and was now planning to take away the provincial governments’ authority of collecting agriculture tax, GST on services and other taxes.

During the last five years, the provincial government achieved a 22 per cent annual increase in its revenue collection while the federal government could only show eight per cent increase, the CM said. “Instead of appreciating and giving rewards to the provincial government, the federal government is planning to take away the power of the provincial government of collecting taxes falling under its domain.”

“If the powers of collection of all the taxes go under the command of the federal government, what will happen to the national and provincial exchequers, one could easily imagine it,” the CM remarked.

Shah maintained that the provincial governments could collect taxes in a better way than the federal government because the former were close to the consumers. “I am of the opinion that the power of collection of sales tax should be given to the provinces completely,” he said.

Responding to another question, the CM said his government would shortly release arrears of media houses on condition that they give outstanding salaries to their employees.

Shah said Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during his visit to the Karachi Press Club last week had assured the media persons that he would work hard to resolve the issues of restraints on freedom of speech, and unemployment and retrenchment in the media industry, which he termed his own problems.

Community convention

Earlier, the CM attended the National Community Convention in Gadap organised by the Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS). During the convention, Shah announced that the Sindh government would support HANDS chief Dr Ghaffar Billo in establishing a nursing institute. “We would support you [Dr Billo] in giving you charter for establishing the institute and would strengthen you financially.”

Shah praised HANDS for mobilising communities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and its other health services. “We have partnered with [HANDS] to provide health services in the province and I am sure our partnership will flourish.” The CM also distributed awards and visited various stalls set up by different district units of HANDS at the event.

Earlier in the day, the CM chaired a meeting to firm up the provincial government’s recommendations for the 8th National Finance Commission Award. He reiterated his stance that the federal government should hand the powers of GST collection over to the provinces.

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