Discontentment shown over Sindh budget: ‘Elite favoured, 98% masses ignored’

KARACHI: Members of Sindh Assembly taking part in the ongoing general debate of provincial budget showed discontentment on the present state of affairs and demanded that the government take steps to facilitate the poor masses.Three members – one each belonging to Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) – took part in the debate.Bilqees Mukhtar of MQM said the present budget is formed to facilitate two percent elite class, while ignoring 98 percent poor masses of Sindh. She said to qualify to be called a democratic government; its fruits should reach to masses. She said many important schemes that could have facilitated masses were absent from the budget. She said the government wanted to introduce costly reverse osmosis (RO) technology for water supply to Tharparkar and hefty amount of Rs7 billion has been earmarked to purchase and install RO plants, despite the fact that the previously installed RO plants of the Sindh government have failed to work properly. She said government could save millions of rupees by using a cheaper water supply method by using direct water lines. She added that she had worked painstakingly to make a feasibility that can supply water to 10 village of Mithi as the cost of just Rs 200 million. She said she has already given this feasibility to the Sindh government but it is yet to be considered. She said supplying water through direct lines is much cheaper than supply of water through RO plants. She said another scheme to make purchased mammography machinery functional at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital Karachi at a cost of Rs 400 million is also omitted from the provincial budget. Similarly a scheme to provide emergency medical treatment to injured of road accidents in Sindh is curtailed which should be revised soon, she added. She said we are not giving anything to our people but instead burdening them under direct and indirect taxes. She asked to publish the lists of elite, feudal lords, ministers and rulers who are not paying taxes and impound their properties. She said the STETVA should be run either by the education department or by the labour department. Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of PML-F said perhaps first time in the history of Sindh the development funds are cut down and non-development funds increased. She said the vital project of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) was on the priorities of Sindh government last year, but this year it has been obliterated altogether from the provincial budget. She said the budget deficit is not the deficit of government but a deficit for people. She said the provincial government has failed to bring economic reforms and financial management. The excise and taxation department has failed to deliver but there is no accountability for these things, she went on She said the province of Sindh lacks a finance minister and this is the second consecutive budget of Sindh with no finance minister. She said despite increase of Rs10 billion funds no civic development is seen in any city or town of Sindh province. She said the education sector is in shambles despite of the rise in budgetary funds. She said allocation of Rs5billion for Sindh universities is not sufficient and the government should revise it. She said the government has planned to give 40,000 new jobs; however, she feared lack of transparency in the recruitment process. She said there is a misconception in people of Sindh that like past practices these new jobs will be sold out too. She said because of this the jobless youth is busy to arrange money instead of thinking to apply for their jobs on merit basis. Khursheed Ahmed Junejo of PPPP held the view that this is a deficit budget, but government plans to give progress and prosperity equally to all 29 districts of Sindh province. He said focus should be given on the less developed areas to make them at par with the developed ones.He said the energy sector needs urgent attention and Sindh towns and villages face 20 hours a day electricity load shedding. He said that the standard of education in Sindh is worse than the education standard of FATA. He stressed the need to give priority to vocational education. Giving example of Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences, he said if there is a will and determination, a single person can also make miracles. He said the government departments should follow the example of the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences.During the question hour, ex-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani accompanied by ex-chairman Senate Farooq H Naek and other PPPP leaders visited the Sindh Assembly (at 12:00pm). The house warmly welcomed them by thumping desks. The speaker greeted them followed by the welcome speeches given by MPAs. Those spoke to greet Gilani included Nisar Ahmed Khuhro (PPPP)  5 minutes, Sharmila Faruqi (PPPP) 5 minutes, Shaharyar Khan Mahar (PML-F and opposition leader) 2 minutes, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani (PPPP) 2 minutes, Dr Lal Chand (PPPP) 1 minute, Syed Sardar Ahmed (MQM) 1 minute, Mahesh Kumar Malani (PPPP) 2 minutes, Dr Sikandar Shoro (PPPP) 3 minutes, Bilqees Mukhtar (MQM) 3 minutes, Makhdoom Jamil uz Zaman (PPPP) 4 minutes, Hafeezudin Syed (PTI) 3 minutes, Abdul Rauf Ahmed Siddiqui (MQM) 3 minutes, Dr Sagheer Ahmed (MQM) 5 minutes, Jam Madad Ali Khan (PML-F) 3 minutes, Khursheed Ahmed Junejo (PPPP) 4 minutes, and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah (PPPP) 7 minutes. During these welcome speeches, the MPAs paid rich tributes to bravery, wisdom and political vision of Yousaf Gilani. They also lavishly praised him for strengthening democracy and carrying out political reconciliation policy of ex-president Asif Ali Zardari. They also praised him for facing courts “boldly”.Due to these welcome speeches three starred questions on the agenda could not be raised. When Yousaf Raza Gilani left the visitors’ gallery at 12:50, the house started general discussion on the provincial budget. The question hour was about Department of Industries and STEVTA Department. Provincial Minister Muhammad Abdul Rauf Siddiqui answered the questions about ministry of industries and parliamentary secretary Shahid Taheem about STEVTA. 

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