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April 20, 2019

Non-development expenditures slashed by Rs73bn to provide funds for uplift works


April 20, 2019

Despite a shortfall in the transfer of funds from the Centre, the Sindh government has been trying to ensure that the lack of funds does not affect development projects in the province.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Friday while presiding over a meeting to review the fiscal position of the province. He asserted that his government wanted maximum uplift schemes to be completed this year.

The CM was informed that the total outlay of the provincial budget was Rs1.124 billion against which the total expenditures had been estimated at Rs1.1445 billion, which meant that there was a shortfall of Rs20.5 billion.

Finance Secretary Najam Shah said there were Rs773.2 billion non-development expenditures against which the CM had approved a deduction of Rs73.2 billion, fixing the non-development expenditures at Rs700 billion.

Sindh Planning and Development Board Chairman Mohammad Waseem told the meeting that at present 1,965 development schemes were in progress in the province, of which 710 were scheduled to be completed by June 2019.

Waseem said the total allocation of funds for those 710 development schemes was Rs42.7 billion, against which Rs34.9 billion had been released. To this, the CM directed the finance secretary to release the remaining amount of Rs7.8 billion so that those schemes could be completed before the end of the fiscal year.

The planning and development board chairman said there were 451 priority schemes worth Rs73.3 billion, against which 29.1 billion had been released. The CM said he would try to arrange Rs11 billion for the completion of the priority schemes.

Murad was further told that there were 804 fast moving schemes worth Rs74.3 billion against which Rs50.9 billion had been released and they still required Rs23.4 billion for completion. To this, he said he had spared an amount of Rs73.3 billion from the non-development expenditures, which he would try to utilise for the completion of such development schemes.

The meeting was informed that the federal government was supposed to release Rs665.1 billion during the current financial year but the provincial government had so far received only Rs390.2 billion till March 2019. It was said that despite such financial crisis, the Sindh government was continuing development works across the province through financial management.

The CM directed Waseem to get all the ongoing schemes of underpasses, flyovers and roads in the city completed by June 2019. “In the next budget, we will launch more schemes for urban and rural areas,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Principal Secretary to the CM Sajid Jamal Abro, along with senior officers of the finance, and planning and development departments.  

FBR deduction

Chairing another meeting, Murad said he was committed to get the refund of Rs7.21 billion from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which it had deducted at source from Account No 1 of the Sindh government.

Sindh Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla briefed the CM on the progress in the case and said his team had held a number of meetings with the FBR and another decisive meeting had been fixed for Monday.

The meeting was told that Excise Secretary Raheem Shaikh and his team would hold a meeting with an FBR member who was to come from Islamabad on Monday to reconcile the figures that had caused the dispute and resulted in at source deductions from the Sindh government’s account.

Once those figures were reconciled, the FBR would accept the Sindh government’s claim for Rs7.21 billion, Chawla told Murad. The CM directed the excise and taxation minister to post day-to-day progress of meetings with the FBR to him. The CM said if the matter was not resolved through talks, he would adopt the legal course to get it resolved.