The Sindh government will present its annual budget today. This comes amid a clash with the Centre over not receiving adequate funds for development projects and complaints of bias. The federal government has dismissed allegations but said funds will be utilized on the people, not the government.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was recently in town as he accused the Sindh government of ‘zero development’ by neglecting the province and misusing funds. He questioned where it spent over Rs1,800bn received in previous years as there was no progress seen on the ground. He said that Sindh lacked a reliable police force and begged Rangers to maintain law and order, while the health system was in dire straits. He maintained that the deplorable condition of development projects, broken roads, and unavailability of drinking water spoke volumes about the provincial government’s performance.
It is, however, the minister’s calls for the Supreme Court’s intervention that seems to have irked the PPP government. While ruling out the imposition of Governor rule, calling it a non-democratic and extra-judicial step, the minister said the federal government was in favour of implementing Article 140-A of the Constitution which requires provinces to establish a local government system. The remarks have placed the Sindh government once again at loggerheads with the Centre.
The Sindh government has dismissed the allegations and has demanded its due shares, saying a pittance has been earmarked for a megacity like Karachi and there is no major project allocated. CM Sindh said the province was promised Rs742bn under the budgetary allocation last year but the amount was reduced to Rs680 billion. Both governments have sparred for the past several weeks on funds and the worsening water crisis with no resolution in sight.
For now the main focus will be on the Sindh budget in which salaries of government employees are expected to be increased by 25 percent, higher than what the federal government has announced. The Sindh government’s demands to receive its due share are justified. The provincial government has to spend on public welfare and bring pro-poor schemes. Therefore, it is imperative that the animosity and rhetoric are set aside for the development of the province.