MPAs urged to play role for prosperity of Sindh

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Friday urged the members of Sindh Assembly to make their best efforts for security, peace, development and prosperity of the province and its people. Being custodians of people’s trust, all the parliamentarians have massive responsibility on their shoulders to ensure peace and socio-economic uplift of the province by framing the best policies and by pursuing them till the targets are achieved, the chief minister asserted in his budget speech here on the floor of Sindh Assembly.The chief minister said, “Our country and Sindh province are facing some serious challenges. Challenges, both internal and external, are being manifested through both difficult economic environment and the continued gruesome incidents of terrorism.“Our capital city of Karachi, due to its strategic and economic importance, is a particular target for terrorists. This is not all. The global economy is still struggling against incessant recession and the targets for economic growth remain elusive in most parts of the world. “We have to be close to our people in these testing times. The people are the principals in this democratic arrangement. If terrorism is the biggest challenge, we will fight terrorism through development and prosperity,” Qaim Ali Shah said.He said “last year when the people of Sindh reaffirmed their faith in the provincial government run by PPP under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari we had promised them to prepare a budget based on optimal utilization of resources to achieve our objectives of socio economic development in the shortest possible time with an all-time high allocation towards development”. Qaim Ali Shah said that while holding on to the same goals as last year, this budget envisages further refinement in PPP led Sindh government’s policies and priorities. The targets for development set in a budget can only be achieved if the estimates of the receipts are correctly projected and actual receipts during the year happen to be in accordance with the original estimates. Due to lack of fiscal decentralization, we are heavily dependent on Federal Government for transfer of our receipts. These transfers remained highly unpredictable as targets for federal board of revenue (FBR) were revised downward twice during the outgoing fiscal year. The initial target for FBR was fixed at Rs. 2475 billion. It was first revised down to Rs 2345 billion and then further revised down to Rs 2275 billion in May 2014.Accordingly, share of Sindh government in Federal transfers as per budget estimates for 2013-14 amount Rs.409.013 billion was curtailed to Rs. 388.634 billion. Out of which Rs.327.218 billion have been actually transferred till date. Which means a shortfall of Rs. 81.795 billion against the original estimates and Rs.61.416 billion against the revised estimates.The provinces unfortunately have to bear the brunt of the poor governance at the Federal level. We therefore call for further fiscal decentralization and after the success of the Sindh Government in collecting sales tax on services now call for the transfer of the collection of sales tax on goods to the provincial governments.The chief minister mentioned other important financial matters, which are pending for want of implementation by the Federal Government, are the collection of zakat and the administration of employees old-age benefits fund and workers’ welfare fund. Both subjects have been devolved to the province after the 18th amendment but the implementation is being delayed despite several requests by the Government of Sindh. Syed Qaim Ali Shah showed his reservations over the levy of gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) by Federal government and called for due consultation with the provincial governments.He said that his government succeeded in completing a record number of 60 schemes in the out-going financial year. Major schemes completed during 2013-14 in various important sectors are irrigation, education, health and infrastructure. The chief minister said that one of the biggest challenges for his government is to keep pace with the demands of growing population and to continue providing quality service to the citizens. As a first step in the direction of improved service delivery, we are significantly increasing our allocations for non salary budgets of education and health, increasing grants for municipal bodies, increasing allocation of budgets for maintenance and rehabilitation of public sector infrastructure and introducing grants for public utilities for payments of electricity dues.After enhancing our budgetary allocations for these heads, Sindh government will put in place an efficient mechanism for their utilization and will also ensure timely releases of the allocated funds, which will lead to better planning and predictable expenditures. For maintenance and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, he said that we are proposing significant increases in our allocations for repairs of roads and buildings including schools, hospitals, police stations etc. Our M&R budget for buildings will increase by 58% from Rs.5.771 billion in the outgoing year to Rs.9.148 billion next year.Sindh Government is devising a mechanism to ensure that this huge budget for maintenance and repair is used in an efficient and transparent manner that will result in significant improvement in the existing infrastructure. Similarly, the maintenance and repair budget of roads is being increased by 72 percent from Rs.1.45 billion in the outgoing year to Rs.2.50 billion next year.“ We will also be ensuring that other factors which are at the root of delivery of poor governmental service delivery, particularly in health and education, are identified and addressed through a proper management approach,” he said. Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that his government has planned to take more steps to improve service delivery especially the law and order. The budget for law enforcement agencies will be increased by 20 percent from out-going year’s Rs.44.86 to Rs.54.08 billion in the next year. During the outgoing year, 12,000 new vacancies were created into police including 2000 retired army personnel, which has helped in improving quality of our force.Moreover, an outside budget allocation of Rs.6.238 billion, including Rs.5.0 billion for our police only, had to be made to provide funds for procurement of vehicles, arms and ammunition, bullet proof jackets and helmets etc. for law enforcement agencies in Sindh, to fully equip them to meet challenges of ongoing operation in Karachi. The Sindh chief minister said that education is the single most important factor in development of any society. No country can achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital. Education enriches people’s understanding of themselves and world, it improves the quality of their lives and brings broad social benefits to individuals and society. Education has and will remain the top priority of the peoples’ government.“ We are fully committed to provide quality education to our children. This is evident from the fact that education receives highest share of resources from our government,” he said.In this budget, we are keeping an allocation of Rs 134.32 billion for non-development expenditure of education which is 31 % of our total current revenue expenditure. The non-salary expenditure on education will witness a significant hike of 25 % over out-going years’ budget. The non-salary budget will now comprise 24.5% of the total current revenue budget for the education as compared to 21 % in the out-going year. For the first time, we are making school specific budgets for 43,000 schools in Sindh in order to ensure that each school gets its earmarked budget and the head of the school has an oversight over expenditure, he said. He said that another major reform being undertaken is to have separate cadres of managers and teachers. Both these reforms will help in resolving governance related issues of education. Under the Sindh Education Reform Programme, he said, Sindh Government has started second phase of this programme with the assistance of the World Bank.The key targets of this reform are to raise school participation by improving sector governance, accountability, strengthening of administrative systems, measuring student achievements and promoting public private partnerships initiatives for delivering quality education to under-served communities.Sindh government has proposed a substantial allocation of Rs.3.85 billion for Sindh Technical & Vocational Training Authority. Through this allocation, STEVTA will complete construction work on 32 new institutions, introduce 70 market driven courses, improve infrastructure of 50 institutions and will provide new equipment to existing and new institutions.Special training programmes for marginalized and vulnerable groups will also be introduced. This year, STEVTA will enrol 5000 more trainees, to increase its enrolment capacity to a total number of 45,000 trainees. Under the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme, we have trained 1,98,503 youth in various employable trades since 2008. In acknowledgement of the success of BBSYDP, this august house had given a permanent structure to the programme through a bill namely The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Human Resource, Research and Development Board. The Board has now been constituted and is operative to achieve the purpose of the Act. Technical, vocational and skill development trainings are being consolidated under this Board. The Board is expected to provide a comprehensive solution for eradication of poverty and unemployment among youth. An allocation of Rs.984.20 million is being made for BBYSDP through this budget with a target of training 65, 000 unskilled youth of Sindh in different demand driven trades. The newly constituted Board has planned to improve existing curricula of the trainings with the modules of business development and soft skills so that youth may qualify for micro finance facilities after the successful completion of their training; which will be offered to them in partnership with Sindh Bank. The chief minister said that though we have reduced the size of our ADP, we have still kept a huge allocation of Rs.I0.7 billion for education sector. A large number of schemes of construction and up gradation of schools and colleges are being implemented through this allocation. We are constructing 10 new public schools at Umerkot, Sanghar, T.M.Khan, Tando Allahyar, Ghotki, Matiari, Kamber-Shahdadkot, Gadap, Dadu and Jacobabad. Eight new cadet colleges are being established at Dadu, Gadap, Mithi, Khairpur, Karampur, Jacobabad, Badin & Tando lam. For industrial & economic growth leading towards continuous job creation, provision of uninterrupted energy is imperative. To realize this objective, government of Sindh has introduced Sindh Power Policy 2014, besides number of power generation initiatives in renewable energy, coal, and oil and gas sectors. The Sindh Power Policy envisages to provide reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to the residents of Sindh and become net exporter of electricity by the year 2018. “I feel proud to inform this house that overburden removal at Thar Coal block-II has begun.”The project was jointly inaugurated by the former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on January 31, 2014. The joint inauguration demonstrated the belief and resolve of the government in the potential of Thar coal. 

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