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June 26, 2019

Murad surprised over Sindh being dubbed as most corrupt


June 26, 2019

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said the amount recovered by the National Accountability Bureau in plea bargains and volunteer return (of the corrupt money) from other provinces is much higher than that recovered from Sindh but even then Sindh is being branded as the most corrupt province, and termed the phenomenon deplorable.

Murad was delivering a speech in the Sindh Assembly on Tuesday to wind up the general discussion on the budget for fiscal 2019-20. Shah started his speech with a verse of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai which says “May Allah make Sindh prosper first and then make the entire world prosperous.” The CM said he won’t mind if he is criticized but would never allow criticism over the motherland i.e. Sindh. Sindh is the land of love, fraternal relations and peace, he reiterated. Responding to questions by the leader of the opposition, he said the federal government had informed them that Sindh would be given Rs665 billion but then in June we were told that Sindh would get Rs632 billion. By the end of this month, the federal government communicated that we would be given only Rs492 billion. “This creates a shortfall of Rs173 billion if the actual figure of Rs665 billion is taken into account,” he said and added the federal govt still owes Rs126 billion to Sindh from the previous fiscal.

He said the federal government during 2016-17 had collected Rs3.27 trillion and this year it has collected Rs3.31 trillion. This shows only 1.2 per cent increase. Sindh has shown an increase of over six percent in its revenue collection. Murad Ali Shah said Punjab spent Rs 126 billion of its Rs238 billion ADP (Annual Development Programme) while Sindh utilized Rs 110 billion against the release of Rs130 billion. The size of provincial ADP was Rs252 billion in 2018-19 and the new ADP of 2019-20 is earmarked at Rs223 billion. Shah said he wanted to give a 25 per cent raise in the salaries of government employees but due to the financial crunch could only offer a Rs15 per cent raise, which would have an impact of Rs26 billion on the provincial exchequer. He added he has enhanced the operative expenditures budget from Rs102 billion in 2018-19 to Rs106 billion in 2019-20.

Talking about NICVD, NICH and JPMC (the three govt hospitals of Karachi), the chief minister said the Supreme Court in its decision had said the federal government would have to repay the provincial government all the expenditures it had incurred on these hospitals from 2011 which according to Murad stands at over Rs30 billion. “This year the federal government has not allocated a single penny for these hospitals,” he said and added his government has allocated Rs15 billion for NICVD, JPMC and NICH, besides the provincial government would also give a grant of Rs5.6 billion to SIUT and Rs6.5 billion to PPHI (Peoples Primary Health Care Initiative of Sindh).

The federal government had fixed GDP growth at 6.2 percent and now they have revised it downwards at 3.3 percent but he doubted they could achieve the target. He said the inflation rate during the PTI government has climbed to 9.7 percent, the dollar exchange rate has reached to Rs157 and the stock market has dropped from 42,000 point to 35,000 points. “These indicators of the national economy shown your [PTI govt] inefficiency to handle the national economy,” he said. Shah said the federal government had removed 36 schemes of Sindh from its PSDP. “Last year three chief ministers had boycotted the CCI meeting but this year the prime minister himself boycotted it,” he said.

Murad said the federal government has allocated Rs12 billion for different development schemes of Karachi including Rs2.5 billion for Green Line bus project, construction of Jam Chakro Road, construction of a flyover on Shershah Suri Road, construction of flyover on Jinnah Avenue, construction of Dum Loti road and others. But the federal government ignored the K-IV bulk water supply project, he said. He asked Islamabad to financially support the Sindh government to complete the K-IV project and also initiate an inquiry against its mounting cost.

He said the provincial government allocated Rs61 billion for different development schemes of Karachi while the federal government has allocated only Rs12 billion, this shows the ownership of Karachi,. “We would establish Red Line (bus project) with the Assistance of Asian Development Bank at the cost of $561 million,” Shah said.

Talking about the Auditor General’s report, Murad said it has raised objections against 38 percent spending of the provincial government while the objections of Auditor General against KPK government’s spending were recorded at 58 percent of their total development expenditures of last year and 68 percent spending this year 2018-19. He said embezzlement and fraud of Rs1.6 billion has also been pointed out by the Auditor General of Pakistan in KPK.

Comparing corruption in other provinces with that of Sindh, the chief minister said in 2017 there were 114 cases of plea bargain in KPK amounting to Rs1.27 billion, 46 cases of Rs1.337 billion in Balochistan, 170 cases of Rs1.59 billion in Punjab and 69 cases of Rs1.53 billion in Sindh which included a case of EOBI of Rs853 billion – as the EOBI is a federal institution. This shows a minimum amount of plea bargain cases in Sindh, he pointed out. He said the Voluntary Return (of the corrupt money) to NAB was reported at Rs440 million in Balochistan, Rs1.8 billion in KPK, Rs3.1 billion in Sindh and Rs60.6 billion in Punjab. “I am quite surprised that even then Sindh is being branded as the most corrupt province,” he deplored.

Shah said that he is personally monitoring the progress and pace of the on-going development projects in Karachi but due to financial crunch and shortfall in the federal transfers, he could not release the maximum funds to complete them. He asked the Urdu speaking SIndhis to own this land of Sindh and be loyal to it as other Mohajirs like Syeds, Durranis and others.

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