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April 23, 2021

Rs3 trillion needed to transform Karachi into modern city, PA told

Karachi

April 23, 2021

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. File photo

Sindh’s chief minister said on Thursday that Rs3 trillion are needed to transform Karachi into a modern city. Syed Murad Ali Shah was responding to the queries of lawmakers during the provincial assembly’s question hour related to the finance department.

The chief executive, who also holds the portfolio of the finance department, said his government would have been able to do much work for the city’s development if there had been additional funds available for it.

He lamented that his government had to allocate less funds for the city’s development because of the unavailability of sufficient financial resources for the purpose. He mentioned that the provincial government had been announcing mega development projects in every budget only for Karachi since 2016. He informed the House that funds could not be allocated for the development projects recommended by the MPAs owing to the relevant directives of the apex judiciary.

He said the social security system in the country is not in a good condition, adding that the government has been finding it difficult to meet the pension-related expenses of retired employees.

He also said the government has to spend billions of rupees every year to meet its pension expenditure, adding that different options are being considered all over the country, including in Sindh, to overcome the widening budgetary deficit related to pension.

He pointed out that one of the proposals that are being considered is to pay a lump sum of the post-retirement dues to the retiring employees. He conceded that a fraud had been committed in the pension funds of the province to the tune of billions of rupees in the financial year 2011-12.

The CM admitted that the embezzlement had been committed with collusion between the bank and the Sindh Finance Department’s staff members. He said his government has been extending complete cooperation to the National Accountability Bureau to conduct the investigation into the fraud.

He told the lawmakers that his government was constrained to increase the salaries of government employees every year in accordance with the fiscal resources available to it. He said the Sindh cabinet made the decision to increase the salaries of government employees, adding that the PA later approved the proposal. He also said a grade-one employee of the government had been drawing a monthly salary of over Rs20,000.

He negated the impression that the staff members of the municipal agencies in Sindh are being paid salaries below the minimum monthly wage prescribed in the province. He said the minimum monthly wage prescribed in the province is Rs17,000, and the law is being violated if the condition is not being applied anywhere.

Census issue

Later on, the CM delivered a policy statement in the House on the issue of the census results. He said the Council of Common Interests recently approved the results of the last census despite the objections he raised, adding that such a decision should have been taken after consulting with the provinces.

Shah said that not just Sindh but the other provinces also have objections over the census results. He said the last census results showed Sindh having the lowest count of people in the country as part of a single household.

He pointed out that it had earlier been decided by all the parties concerned to verify the results of five per cent of the census blocks in the country. He said the surveys of the Unicef showed different results with regard to the population of the country.

The CM said his government will refer the objections to the joint session of the parliament. He said he will write to the prime minister and the National Assembly speaker to inform them that Sindh’s population had been counted as fewer than the actual number in the last census.