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November 27, 2019

5,801 acres to be allotted for renewable energy projects in Sindh


November 27, 2019

The Sindh cabinet has approved the allotment of 5,801 acres to 10 private firms and the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) on a 30-year lease to set up renewable power plants and a national grid station under the guidance of the Supreme Court.

Held at the new Sindh Secretariat on Tuesday with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in chair, the advisory group’s meeting was told that the land allotment would fetch Rs9.13 billion for the provincial exchequer.

The cabinet also allowed the planners of renewable power plants to install more such projects, subject to the fulfilment of government requirements and clearance of lease money.

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that 10 renewable energy companies and the NTDC had applied for land allotment to set up wind and solar power projects in Thatta, Dadu and Jamshoro districts. He said that seven projects would be installed in Thatta, one in Dadu and another in Jamshoro.

The relevant deputy commissioners reported the land’s availability and also suggested annual lease money at a rate of Rs3,000, Rs5,000 and Rs8,000 per acre each year for different categories of land. Board of Revenue Senior Member Qazi Shahid Parvez said the land could be allotted in accordance with the guidance of the SC. The cabinet approved the land allotment and directed Parvez to make the necessary arrangements.

Sindh Bank

Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi said the Sindh Bank had faced a substantial shortfall in capital and deterioration of the capital adequacy ratio (CAR, or the capital to risk-weighted assets ratio).

In view of the situation, the cabinet had decided to inject into the bank Rs14.7 billion, of which the provincial government had provided Rs9.7 billion. The group approved another tranche of Rs2 billion for the bank and decided to merge with the bank the Sindh Leasing Company, which had Rs3 billion in cash in its accounts.

Sindh Bank President Imran Samad said the bank’s account had improved from Rs14.5 billion to Rs18 billion. According to the State Bank’s requirement, the CAR of the bank should be at least 11.9 per cent and now it had reached 16.65 per cent.

This showed that the bank’s financial strength had improved considerably. The cabinet was told that the bank had recovered Rs90.3 million of bad loans. Therefore, the group allowed the bank to advance bank loans to its employees.

The cabinet was also told that the Sindh Microfinance Bank had advanced small loans of Rs2.2 billion to impoverished women to launch small businesses, and that the bank was running in profit. Therefore, the group withdrew the proposal of merging the microfinance bank with the Sindh Bank.

The cabinet approved a proposal under which all government departments, subordinate organisations and institutions would deposit their accounts, including salary accounts, in the Sindh Bank. From now all grants to public and private institutions will be given on the condition they maintain an account with the Sindh Bank, as far as the government’s finances are concerned.

Sindh HEC

The universities & board department presented an amendment in the Sindh Higher Education Commission Employees (Recruitment) Rules 2014, under which all posts, including that of secretary and executive director, was to be made open to civil servants and people from the academia background.

The cabinet approved in principle the amendment in the rules but also directed the department’s secretary to develop detailed salary packages, pay scales and other benefits for the employees to be posted in the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Recruitment ban

The cabinet noted that on the one hand the universities under the provincial government’s control were raising a hue and cry over a shortage of funds, but on the other, they continued to hire people.

Through the secretary, the group ordered the universities to stop recruitment until their financial strength improved. However, necessary recruitments could be made with the approval of the government.

Archives directorate

The cabinet was told that the nature of work of the culture, antiquities, heritage, archaeology and archives departments was of a similar nature. The directorate of archives and culture was a part of the education department in 1976.

A separate culture department was created later but the directorate of archives remained a part of the education department and was then transferred to the information department.

The job of the directorate of archives is to preserve old scripts, books and other such old records, which is very similar to the work of the culture department. Therefore, the cabinet separated the directorate of archives from the information department and transferred it to the culture department.

Language authority

The cabinet discussed and approved the rules of the Sindhi Language Authority, which include the Sindhi Language Authority (Constitution, Powers & Functions) Rules, and the Sindhi Language Authority Employees (Services) Rules.

The advisory group directed the provincial culture department to develop salary packages and salary structure for the employees to include those details in the rules.

SBCA courts

The cabinet was told that the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) was engaged in a constant campaign against illegal buildings, and that demolition of four to five illegal structures was carried out every day.

As a part of the procedure, FIRs are registered at the SBCA police station, and the registered cases are then disposed of by the judicial magistrate. The prosecution cases under the SBCA law are also being filed at the relevant courts. Therefore, special SBCA courts should be established.

The cabinet approved the establishment of such courts and directed the local government department to start setting up the courts wherever they were deemed necessary.

Psychiatry institute

The provincial health department told the cabinet meeting that the emerging problems relating to mental and behavioural disorders were counted among the major health problems.

Considering it an alarming situation to overcome increasing non-communicable disorders, the health department presented a draft bill, namely the Sir Cowasjee Jahangir Institute of Psychiatry & Behavioural Science Act, to convert a 150-year-old mental hospital at Deh Gidoo in Hyderabad. The group approved the draft and referred it to the Sindh Assembly.

Valuation tables

The Board of Revenue presented two proposals regarding variation in the valuation of the table of urban properties in Sindh: in the first instance, valuation of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur may be brought at par with the Federal Board of Revenue’s valuation table dated July 23, 2019.

A comprehensive survey of all cities may be conducted to rationally determine the number of categories with clear demarcation of the area falling under each category in the cities (metropolitan or municipal corporations and committees). In the first phase, a survey may be conducted within the municipal areas through the deputy commissioners.

The cabinet considered the proposal and constituted a three-member committee comprising Revenue Minister Makhdoom Mahboob, LG Minister Nasir Shah and Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh to review the proposal and submit their report in the next meeting of the group.