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Controversy over Karachi package

There has already been controversy over the multi-billion Karachi Transformation Plan relief package announced by the prime minister last weekend. Political parties and governments have sparred over who will foot the chunk of the resources pledged while residents wonder whether they will truly benefit from the programme.

The prime minister had unveiled Rs1.14 trillion package for Karachi including around 50 development projects. Just a day prior, Chief Minister Sindh had also unveiled Rs802 billion package and said he expected the prime minister to match the plan. Many of these projects were already part of the Annual Development Programme (ADP), while several of them were being funded by loans and assistance from global financial institutions such as the ADB and World Bank.

The question then arises on what exactly is the federal government’s contribution to the programme. If the major share is being contributed by the provincial government and external borrowing, then it implies that the Centre had not provided a truly ‘historic’ package. The sheer size of the relief package considered the largest ever had impressed citizens but now doubts have been raised over whether it will ever be fulfilled.

The government denied that it had provides the least share of resources. Planning Minister Asad Umar claimed that the Centre will contribute two-thirds of the amount while the rest is by the provincial government and bilateral institutions. However, the inability to provide the specifics and issue a clarification has made matters even worse.

It is also unclear how the programme will eventually be implemented. A Project Coordination and Implementation Committee has been formed but it will be headed the chief minister. The Centre has claimed funds will not be given to the provincial government as it cannot be trusted and has a dismal track record. Its needs to be seen whether both sides will end the animosity and work together for the development of the city.

With the local government dissolved, the Sindh government has gained control of the province with the appointment of city administrators. The next few months until the local bodies elections are held will be crucial and will demonstrate how the government handles the city. For now, the battle to gain control of Karachi is fierce and has intensified.

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