Economics & Business

Sindh govt announces Rs457.54 billion tax-free budget

Karachi: Sindh presented Rs457.54 billion surplus budget for the fiscal year 2011-12 in the Sindh Assembly, with revenue expenditures totaled to around Rs283.14 billion. Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah presented the budget, announcing
a total outlay of Rs457.54 and total provincial receipts Rs458.4 billion, with a surplus of Rs882 million.

While reading out budget speech, the minister said that total revenue receipts are estimated at Rs458.42 billion while the funds to be received from federation have been budgeted around Rs252 billion. Besides, direct transfers have been projected at Rs53 billion.

The estimate of total provincial earnings including the sales tax on services have been projected at Rs53 billion and the target for sales tax collection has been set at Rs25 billion, he said. Murad Ali Shah told the provincial assembly that the current revenue expenditure stands at an estimated Rs283.147 billion, which is one percent higher than the revised estimate of Rs.281.237 billion for the outgoing fiscal year 2010-11.

The provincial minister further said that this time conservative estimates have been made in view of the tight financial position of the province. He announced 15 per cent raise in the salaries of the provincial government employees and 20 percent increase in pensions.

He said that the current revenue expenditure of province has actually decreased from Rs147.451 billion for outgoing financial year to Rs146.276 billion. The provincial minister said that the share of local governments has increased to Rs135.171 billion from the previous fiscal year’s Rs.120.815 billion.

The minister in his speech said that Sindh has the highest concentration of urban population at 49 per cent as compared to an overall country average of 32.5 per cent, making it the most urbanised province in the country. But this urbanisation has come at a rapid pace and has put considerable strain on the existing urban infrastructure.

Poor communication infrastructure is another constraint on our economic development. Last year’s devastating floods have aggravated the problem further by damaging the irrigation structures, road networks, schools, health facilities, houses and crops – thus deepening the plight of already affected people, he said.

He said that amidst all this attention and focus on floods, it was strove not to lose sight of priority initiatives. The Sindh finance minister said that following are the priority areas, where major investments have been made and most of fiscal resources would be diverted during the next financial year in order to bring perceptible improvement in the quality of life of our citizens:

“Investment in education, health, women empowerment and vocational training to improve quality of our human resource and to prepare it for increasingly competitive job market; Investment in energy sector, particularly in Thar coal resource, in order to overcome current energy crisis and to ensure sufficient supply for rapid economic growth; Investment in Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock, Fisheries and in improvement of rural areas and secondary cities in order to promote growth of rural economy and to reduce pressure of migration on major cities; Investment in infrastructure and urban development including water, sanitation and drainage to improve quality of life of our fast growing urban population.

Investment in Health
Speaking about improving health sector, he said that health continues to be a central and prime priority of the provincial government, as we strongly believe that the welfare of the people flows from investing in the health of the people, and for coming year, the health development budget has been increased substantially. He said:

“This year Rs 6.3 billion were kept in the ADP for health sector, but due to floods allocation was revised at Rs. 4.095 billion. For the next year Rs. 6.9 billion have been allocated for schemes of health sector.”

Urban Development
He said that the Sindh government continued to finance special packages for major cities and towns of the province in addition to the regular schemes executed in urban areas.

Sindh Cities Improvement Program

The finance minister also elaborated measures and program to be taken during next fiscal year for providing improved socio-economic infrastructure to the all cities of the province for reinvigorating economic activities and people’s uplift. “Another major initiative in urban development which began during outgoing fiscal year is ADB assisted SCIP, he said.

Murad Ali Shah said that North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) has been established under the aegis of this program. Under Phase-I, NSUSC has taken over the water supply, sewerage and solid waste management services in six northern cities of Sindh. In the next Phase the program will be extended to include six more cities of central Sindh.

The program is designed to ultimately serve 20 secondary cities of Sindh. The major initiatives targeted to be undertaken during next FY under this program include: Solid waste management vehicles & equipment for all six TMAs, costing approx. Rs325 million will soon be in the cities.

Larkana waste-water management plan being executed at the cost of Rs260 million. Khairpur waste-water management plan being executed at the cost of Rs. 200 million Rehabilitation of 3 water treatment plants at Sukkur and Khairpur costing Rs27620 million. Design work for Sukkur water supply is under way. Four land-fill sites will be constructed at Rohri, Shikarpur, Khairpur and Larkana – conforming to international standards.

About the author

Saleem Shaikh

The writer is a development journalist. He writes on water, sanitation, environment, climate change, agriculture, women development, human rights, education, health, development budgets and economy.

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