KARACHI: The Centre-Sindh tussle took another turn on Sunday when information minister Fawad Chaudhry launched another attack in Karachi on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government and said a mechanism was being developed to “monitor” development funds given to the province.
Chaudhry, speaking at the Karachi Press Club, alleged that funds given by the federal government to Sindh “are found in Dubai” and said a mechanism was in the works for the “monitoring” of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects so the proper utilisation of funds and relief to the masses could be ensured.
Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan would lead an election campaign in Sindh during the general elections and the next government in the province “will be formed by PTI” because, he said, “it is not possible for the PPP to win the elections on the basis of its performance”.
This is the second time the information minister attacked the provincial government in the provincial capital, with Chaudhry urging the Supreme Court last week to enforce devolution in the province. He mentioned it again in his talk on Sunday.
“It seems Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is unaware of Article 140-A, which requires provinces to establish a local government system, convene Provincial Finance Commission and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to elected representatives of local governments so that basic issues of the masses could be resolved,” he said.
“We do not expect the Sindh Chief Minister will take any measure in this regard, due to which we are appealing the Supreme Court to look into the matter and ensure the implementation of Article 140-A in the province,” he said.
The PTI government had issued over 1.8 trillion rupees in the previous two years under the NFC award to Sindh, while 700-750 billion rupees are earmarked for the province for the financial year 2021-22, the minister said, adding that “despite receiving such a large amount, development in Sindh and even in Karachi is not visible”.
The federal government wanted PFC be constituted so that Karachi — and all other districts of Sindh — could get their due share of provincial resources and development budget, he explained, and said “right now those funds are not being utilised properly and being transferred abroad”. He also described the PPP as “the real enemies of people of Sindh”.
Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab hit back at Chaudhry’s remarks in a press conference, in which he said the government was “not doing any favours” to the province for allocating it development funds and it is the former’s constitutional duty to do so.
“You are not doing us any favours by giving us money. It is not your father’s money, this is our constitutional right,” said Wahab. He added that the federal ministers had “no idea” what it is they have to do and are “only able to give statements”.
The law minister said schemes for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab are visible in the PSDP allocation but Sindh — “which fuels the country’s economy, does not even have the allocation for a single project in the programme”. “Sindh is not given its rights [but] Sindh cannot be ignored,” said Wahab.
The provincial government spokesperson regretted that federal ministers ridicule the Sindh government for not giving any authority to the local governments. He said the PTI government did not let any local government work across Pakistan. “Local governments completed their terms only in Sindh,” said Wahab. Wahab also claimed the federal government had a liking for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief ministers because they “remain silent”. “They like ‘mute’ people like Usman Buzdar. They like KP CM because he remains silent,” said Wahab. The Sindh government spokesperson said that Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah is not liked by the federal government as he “does not remain quiet”. He added that if CM Shah raises his voice, it is “a good thing”.
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