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June 15, 2021

Sindh faces Rs82b shortfall in federal revenue: CM

June 15, 2021

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said the national economy’s growth shown by the federal government is merely an eyewash.

Had the economy really shown the growth, as what is being claimed, the federal government would not have revised its allocations to the provinces, he said while addressing a crowded press conference here at the CM House on Monday.

“We are facing a shortfall of Rs82 billion in federal transfers, therefore, our entire budgetary commitments have been affected badly.” Shah said the majority of taxes were collected by the federal government and then it transferred the share to the provincial governments as per the agreed formula.

The federal government claimed that the national economy has shown growth, he said and added that had the economy been showing growth, the FBR targets would not have been revised. “The FBR had a target of Rs4.89 trillion of tax collection but they failed and then the government revised the target to Rs4.71 trillion,” he said.

He said the FBR has shown a growth of 17 per cent during the last three years, but the Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) has shown a growth of 21 per cent in revenue generation. “Our growth rate is four per cent higher than the FBR,” he said. He criticised the performance of the FBR because of failure to achieve the targets affected the provincial share in the revenue.

Murad said the Sindh government was told that it would be given Rs742 billion from the federal divisible pool and as straight transfers and they had framed the provincial budget accordingly. At the end of the day, the federal government revised the Sindh government’s share from Rs742 billion to Rs680 billion that caused a shortfall of Rs62 billion just by revising the allocation. He added that during the last 11 months, the Sindh government has received 82.5 billion less from the Centre than its due share in the federal divisible pool.

Murad said 11 years had passed since the last NFC Award was announced. Since then the federal government has failed to work out a new award, he said. “The government has appointed a new federal Finance minister [Shaukat Tareen] who was the architect of the last NFC Award,” he said and added it was surprising that the [federal] finance minister who had worked out the last NFC Award was acceptable to the PTI government but his award was not acceptable to them (federal government).

He said the PTI government has always been criticising the NFC Award. “The problem is not with the award but it is with the revenue collection in which FBR has been failing under the present government, therefore, along with the provinces, the federal government is also facing financial problems,” he said.

About the federal PSDP, Murad said that Sindh had been given those projects by the Centre which were not required. “In 2020-21 PSDP, the federal government had allocated Rs9.7 billion for different schemes in Sindh but they could utilise only Rs500 million,” he said and added that the provincial government was not consulted when its projects were included in PSDP.

He said the development projects were always conceived on the ground, but the federal government has been announcing these projects directly and executing them through Pak PWD (Public Works Department). “These direct projects would cause corruption,” he said.

Shah said the federal government was alleging that the provincial government had no capacity to implement development projects, therefore, they [federal govt] were directly implementing these projects. “I want to remind you that the Sindh government has constructed highways such as Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas Road, Karachi-Thatta and various other projects on PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode and has also constructed bridges on River Indus.”

About the census, the CM said that he had submitted a note of dissent to the CCI when the census results were approved. “I have referred the matter to parliament as a joint session should be called to discuss the matter,” he said.

Murad Ali Shah said that he was not accusing any province of stealing water but his grievances were against the federal government that did not allow the IRSA to implement the 1991 water accord in true letter and spirit.

He said the water shortage in respect of 1991 accord in the Punjab during the month of May 2021, was recorded at 20.27 per cent in the first 10-days, 5.08 percent in the second 10-days, 10.23 per cent in the third-10 days. In Sindh during the first daily water shortage was recorded at 34.5 percent, 39.8 percent during the second 10-daily and 40.27 percent during the third 10-daily.

Shah said during June 1 to 10, Sindh and Balochistan faced 35 per cent water shortages and Punjab faced 23 per cent shortage while KPK received 38pc more water than its share. “We are of the view that the shortages should be shared equally as per the water accord,” he said and added the Attorney General for Pakistan in his report on 1991 accord had endorsed the point of view of the Sindh government. “I am surprised in this entire scenario IRSA is silent but the federal government through its inspectors was trying to inspect our water reservoirs. Our grievance is very simple that the distribution of water is being made in violation of the 1991 accord,” he said and added the issue was a legal and technical matter, but the federal government was trying to make it a political issue.

Murad said Sindh was facing gas shortage which was also a violation of Article 158 of the Constitution. “The Constitution under Article 158 gives priority to the people of the area from where gas is produced but this is not happening here,” he said and added whenever he has talked about the issues of the province, he is accused of playing the Sindh card. He said that being the chief executive of the province, it was his duty to protect the rights of the people of the province.

Shah said hydel profits were given to the KPK and he had always been supporting it because it was constitutional but “when we talk about our rights, we are accused of promoting provincialism,” he said and termed it a show of double standards. Sindh is being slaughtered economically, he added.

Giving an oblique reference to Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s press conference in which he had strongly criticized the Sindh Police, the CM said he (the Information Minister) had no right to make mockery of the policemen who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and restored law and order in the city.

He said during the last three years 81 policemen, including 45 in Karachi, 36 in Sukkur and Hyderabad regions, have laid down their lives while performing their duty. “It is the Sindh Police which have fought against outlaws, terrorists, dacoits, land mafia and drug mafia and restored law and order in the province, particularly in the city,” he said and added Karachi was 7th most dangerous city in the crime index of the world and now it has come down to 198th position. “This is the performance of the Sindh Police and you are trying to demoralize the police,” he said. “You [Fawad Ch.] had hurt the families of police Shuhuda by denying their sacrifices. The police in collaboration with Rangers and other agencies have shown a commendable performance which must be lauded, he said.

Replying to a question about Karachi declared as the least livable city by a foreign periodical, Shah said that the resources of the provincial government were meager. “We have to hugely invest in water, solid waste, road sector, drainage, and other sectors,” he said and added for the purpose the federal government and international donor agencies would have to support the Sindh government.

Murad said that public investments on development projects in the city have been scaled-up for the last five years (2015 to 2020), focusing on infrastructure and human development.

“Overall security and investment environment in the city has improved significantly,” he said and added the Sindh government has initiated various development programmes and projects for Karachi, which were at various stages of implementation.