The government is set to table the annual budget later this week. This will be the first test for Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin who has vowed to present a budget with no added taxes or the expected increase in power costs.
Days before the budget is presented, a new controversy has erupted between the federal and Sindh government. The provincial chief minister has written a strongly worded letter to the prime minister complaining of abject bias and discrimination towards the province. He claimed that funds for the proposed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) have been reduced significantly which is detrimental for the interests of the people in the province.
These claims were debunked by federal minister Asad Umar who said that funds for federal projects in Sindh have increased by 32 percent in the first three years, contrary to the chief minister. He added that never before in Pakistan’s annual development programme have so many projects been set for Sindh. However, he warned that the funds will be spent on the masses rather than the Sindh government.
There has been an ongoing tussle between the Sindh and federal government since the past few years which can impact prosperity and development in the province. Many federally-funded projects have been stalled for years and are yet to see the light of day. The PTI government claims that funds were diverted to other purposes to accumulate assets instead of being spent on the people of Sindh.
The prime minister has announced two development packages for Sindh. More than a trillion rupees worth of development projects for Karachi were also announced. However, these projects have not been approved and the people have not gained any benefit. The prime minister is not the leader of any region and should instead focus on all parts of the country without any discrimination.
The Sindh government will present the annual budget just days after the Centre. The ongoing tussle will affect the people of the province the most. It is imperative that there is coordination to ensure the procedures are followed and provincial autonomy is maintained while announcing funds for development projects and other initiatives.