Budget debate in SA shows opposition-style stance of treasury benches

KARACHI: Seven members of Sindh Assembly (SA) of ruling Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and one member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) delivered opposition-style speeches on Monday.PPPP MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi and MQM lawmakers Khalid Ahmed, Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, Muhammad Rashid Khilji, Waqar Hussain Shah, Khalid Bin Vilayat, Waseem ud Din Qureshi and Poonjo Bheel in their respective speech on budget debate complained the distribution of funds were not on equitable basis and their constituencies were generally ignored.   Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi said the PPP said the vision of his party was to safeguard the rights of people. He regretted injustice was done to his voters and constituency as they were ignored in development schemes and funds. He said the government has failed to give priority to corruption control, adding without controlling corruption people would not get justice. It needs deputing honest officers and sidelining the corrupt ones. He regretted during last six years Sindh chief minister failed to do this. He said Ghotki provided a huge share of revenue collection but us went ignored in development schemes and funds. He demanded justice and giving people their due share. MQM’s Khalid Ahmed said Chief Minister quoted Bhutto that ‘either power must pass to the people or everything will perish’. He said during last five years power could not be given to people through local governments, which was also a constitutional obligation. He said even in this budget the Sindh government has not earmarked any funds to hold local government elections. He said new taxes have been slapped on poor masses. He said motorcycles were used by poor and low-income people and taxes were increased on motorcycle users, which was sheer injustice and tantamount to deprive them of their property. In this regard he also quoted a ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which said excessive taxation was equal to forcibly forfeit the properties of citizens, which was illegal. He said by levying tax on services the government has not even let off poor washer man. He said his party has been demanding levy of agriculture tax for a long time but the government was not imposing it. He demanded to make the provincial budget people-friendly by withdrawing new taxes. MQM’s Sabir Qaimkhani said the requirements of urban and rural areas were different and the cities of Sindh should be given their needed facilities. He regretted the development funds of the second largest city of Sindh, Hyderabad were less than the funds of Larkana and Benazirabad. He asked to augment local government institutions financially and administratively to facilitate masses. He said the citizens of rural areas were enjoying subsidies in different forms and such facilities should also be extended to the residents of the urban areas. He said local people should be given preference in government recruitments.He said establishment of a government university in Hyderabad was a popular demand but the government was not taking steps for establishment of this varsity. He said 18,000 to 20,000 Intermediate passed students of Hyderabad were deprived of admissions for higher education and the proposed Hyderabad University would cater their needs. He said when the government accepted any foreign aid or assistance it should apprise the SA while it felt need to accept such assistances. He asked to complete the ongoing schemes on time. Muhammad Rashid Khilji said the genuine issue of Hyderabad University should not be politicised. He requested the chief minister to announce establishment of this varsity when he wraps up the budget. He asked a special package of not less than Rs 2 billion for Hyderabad. Waqar Hussain Shah said big districts of Karachi were neglected in the provincial budget.  Karachi is being meted out a step-motherly treatment. He said load shedding of electricity was the biggest issue of Karachi, but despite several announcements on Thar Coal schemes and releasing of funds, even not a concrete step has been taken to generate coal-based electricity in Thar. He said Metro Bus project was meant for Karachi, but due to negligence it was established in Lahore. He passed some seething remarks about Sindh chief minister, whoever the chair ordered to expunge them. Khalid Bin Vilayat said suggestions of his party were not incorporated in the provincial budget. He said the provincial budget was teemed with new taxes and it was feared after passage of the budget a wave of protests would start in Sindh. Karachi is neglected in development schemes, even if compared with the development schemes of Khairpur district, he added. Waseem ud Din Qureshi criticised the provincial budget. He said this budget showed bureaucracy has won and the masses were defeated. He said the burning problems of masses were not addressed. He said today Karachi was begging for her rights. Urban citizens are living worse lives than rural citizens. He said agriculture tax was not included in the provincial budget though more than 85 perecent of economy depends on agriculture sector. He demanded to introduce a rationing system for urban residents so that they could get wheat flour and sugar on subsidised rates. Poonjo Bheel also complained of discrimination and said the areas that lead in revenue generation should also be preferred in revenue spending. He said there was a Rs 42 billion package for Karachi but it also included huge expenditures of Sindh Governor House, Chief Minister House and SA. He said the government should give equal attention to all areas and give all people justice. He thanked the government for giving more funds to district Tharparkar. He opposed taxes on services sector.Dr Muhammad Rafiq Banbhan of PML-F said law and order condition in Khairpur, the district of Sindh chief minister was the worst. He said kidnapping of ransom and snatching of bikes was rife in the province. He asked the government to earmark some fund to compensate those people whose bikes were being snatched by bandits. He charged the Sindh local government department was the most corrupt department, saying there was no accountability of spending of funds of this department. He said ignoring constituencies of opposition MPAs was discrimination that should be ended, as it was against the spirit of what he called ‘sister democracy’. However, PPPP lawmaker Dr Suhrab Sarki defending the provincial budget said we were ready to hold the local government elections, but the matter was pertaining to the Election Commission of Pakistan. He said record development schemes have been carried out in his constituency, which was badly hit by last floods. He said PPPP has always served masses and continue to do so in future. Ghazala Siyal of PPPP said during period of MQM’s nazims Hyderabad and area of Qasimabad were neglected. She said in the present budget women education has been given priority. She said the federal government should release the funds of Sindh. She congratulated the government for presenting a pro-people budget. Irum Khalid of PPPP said the government has presented a budget that was aimed at the welfare of people. She said the new development surcharge levy on natural gas by the federal government would increase price hike and it should be withdrawn. She said the project of Karachi Circular Railway has been put on the back burner. She said the Sindh government has reduced sales tax on services from 16 percent to 15 percent, which would facilitate the masses. The house unanimously passed two identical resolutions to supports the army operation Zarb-e-Azb. They said the whole nation stands behind the Pakistan Army. Later the speaker adjourned the House till Tuesday June 17, 2014 at 10am. 

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