Prime Minister Imran Khan has released discretionary funds worth Rs3.4 billion for PTI MNAs in Karachi, making a shift in party policy and also receiving criticism for appeasing only their own parliamentarians.
These funds will be used to complete the much delayed federal government-funded projects in the city and initiate new development projects within their constituencies. The projects will be implemented through the Public Works Department. PTI MPAs in Sindh are also being disbursed funds worth Rs30 million each that will be spent on projects through the KMC. The PTI government has promised to release Rs6.4 billion for the city.
It is the foremost duty of elected representatives to resolve the problems faced by their constituents. The release of development funds is their main concern as they face immense pressure for neglecting their constituencies. These are discretionary funds are utilised solely at the discretion of the local MNA without any questions asked. In the past, these funds have been misused for personal or political purposes. For this purpose, Prime Minister Imran Khan had opposed providing discretionary funds but has now succumbed to pressure to release them.
On the other hand, the Sindh government has decried that development funds for the province are being withheld by the Centre which is affecting the completion of mega-projects. It has claimed that it has received Rs128 billion less under NFC provisions, forcing the provincial government to reduce non-development expenditures and shelved several other projects.
The federal government is providing funds for development projects in Karachi and has expedited progress on projects under the Karachi Package. The prime minister has expressed desire to inaugurate four new projects in Karachi for the provision of drinking water, wind up the Green Line metro bus project, while several other projects including the construction of three flyovers have been recently inaugurated. The Northern Bypass and Railway Freight Corridor are being priortised by the federal government as well.
The PTI government came to power for the first time and is reliant on allies due to its being unable a secure a majority. The two main allies, PML-Q and MQM, had recently convinced the PTI to provide development funds as well. Several PTI parliamentarians had also complained about the lack of provision of funds and expressed their reservations. Local Government elections are scheduled this year as the current local bodies will complete their terms on 30 March. The release of funds at this stage is crucial as representatives will scramble to initiate projects for the next elections.
The PPP has been ruling Sindh for the past twelve years and has formed government at the Centre during this time. The previous PML-N government and even the incumbent PTI government have neglected Karachi, turning the economic hub into a pile of trash. The city still faces a plethora of problems. The MQM, which has ruled Karachi for over three decades and claims to be the sole representative of the city, is now of the political spectrum and confined to its neighbourhoods.
Whether it is the PTI or its allies, these discretionary funds should be spent on the welfare and development of Karachi. This can change the conditions of the city and also the fate of the citizens who deserved much better.
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