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June 25, 2019

Four major cities given nothing in new budget, PA told


June 25, 2019

A vocal opposition lawmaker in the Sindh Assembly complained on Monday that four major urban centres of the province -- Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas -- contribute up to 94 per cent of the tax collection by the provincial government, but they get nothing substantial in the new provincial budget.

Khawaja Izharul Hassan stated this as he took part in the ongoing general discussion in the Sindh Assembly the Sindh government’s budget for the financial year 2019-20. The budgetary debate in continued for the sixth day.

The lawmaker, who served as the leader of opposition in the previous house of the Sindh Assembly, said the government had set a target of Rs288 billion to be recovered in the form of the provincial taxes from the urban parts. He alleged that new taxes to the tune of Rs48 billion would be recovered from Karachi.

He said the government had increased both its taxes and non-development expenditures, and after doing so the provincial authorities could not term their new budget a people-friendly fiscal document.

Hassan said the Sindh government of the Pakistan Peoples Party during its continuous rule in the province had presented 11 budgets having total volume of Rs8,000 billion, as each of the budgets containing up to 92 percent indirect taxes.

He said the PPP during its prolonged rule in the province had failed to develop a single government-run hospital, school or a union council as a model entity.

The Muttahida MPA said treasury lawmakers in the house belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party had been unduly delivering provocative speeches in the house in order to hide their own failures in governance. He said that the politics of provocation had always favoured the PPP.

He said that the new provincial Finance Commission award had not been announced in the province over the last several years. He said that the Sindh government had consistently failed to resolve the problem of public transportation of Karachi as instead it had imposed up to a 13 percent provincial sales tax on ride-hailing services being operating in the city.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Saeed Afridi said that the building of a dispensary in his constituency in Karachi in its SITe area had been in a shambles and insufficient to treat the population of 450,000 of the constituency.

He said it was now quite clear that the provincial government could not manage its institutions and that was why it had been handing over these agencies to non-governmental organizations one after another.

“It happened probably for the very first time in the history that on Chand Raat people took to the streets in protest against the water shortage in Karachi instead of doing their Eid shopping,” he said.

MQM MPA Mohammad Abbas Jafferi said conditions of the province had been unchanged as there was no facility for the people though the PPP had been ruling in the province for 11years.

He said the issues of the province related to the government-run schools, colleges, local government, water and sewerage systems had been far from getting resolved.

Teachers’ retest

Taking part in the general discussion on the budget, Education Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah said a proposal was under consideration by the government to conduct an aptitude test once more for in-service teachers at the government-run schools as those who cleared the retest would be allowed to continue in the teaching service.

He suggested in the house that the opposition should better strike an agreement with the government as they would not do agitation in the province once the government started firing teachers at the government-run educational institutions, who had not been teaching. He said that up to 78 percent of the budget allocated for the education department was spent to pay salaries of its staffers.

He said that there were 134,000 teachers associated with the government schools and not more than 34,000 had been teaching in the real sense.

Shah noted that up to 100,000 teachers lacked the aptitude to teach and they could not called be teachers. He said that consultation had been done with the civil society to upgrade the standard of government schools.

He said several unions of staffers in the education system of the province had emerged as a mafia. He disclosed that up to 29 tehsils in the province had been without a government college.

He invited the opposition lawmakers to become part of the committees constituted to procure furniture for the government schools and colleges in Sindh.

The minister conceded that villages in the province lacked government schools up to the secondary level. She said the enrollment of girl students had considerably decreased in Sindh due to a lack of female secondary schools. “We duly consider Karachi as a part of Sindh as we will not do politics on education and health issues,” he said.

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