Sindh unfurls Rs1,477 billion deficit budget with no new taxes

Opp's hooting, whistling cause commotion in assembly: Salaries raised by 20pc, pensions 10pc: Deficit amounts to Rs25,738: Minimum wage set at Rs25,000

By: News Desk      Published: 11:08 AM, 15 Jun, 2021
Sindh unfurls Rs1,477 billion deficit budget with no new taxes
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah delivering his budget speech in the provincial assembly.

The Sindh government has presented its budget for the fiscal year 2021/22 with a total outlay of Rs1477.903 billion with no new taxes in the financial plan and an increase of 20% in the salaries of government employees, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah who also keeps the portfolio of provincial finance minister presented the budget in the provincial assembly on Tuesday which broke into a commotion by the protest of opposition parties.

The opposition parties, true to their tradition of disrupting budget speeches whether it’s a federal budget or provincial budget, resorted to hooting and whistling during the entire budget speech. 

Chief Minister Shah said that the volume of the budget was increased by 19.1% and the budget deficit was estimated at Rs25.738 billion. He said the total revenue of the province was estimated at Rs1452.168 billion whereas the budget outlay was Rs1477.903 billion. He said that the province would generate Rs329.319 billion in revenue. He said that the recurring expenditures of the province were estimated at Rs1089.372 billion.

He said that in the upcoming fiscal year, the provincial government intends to create 2,600 jobs, and aims to complete 1,033 schemes.

The chief minister, who also holds the portfolio of Sindh finance minister, said the budget is ‘pro-people’, but the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally altered way of life.

Talking about the health sector, CM Murad said funds to the tune of Rs24.7 billion have been allocated specifically to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. "Over 960 new posts will be created at different levels of health management," said Murad.

An amount of Rs18.3 billion has been proposed for the purchase of drugs and medicines while Rs2 billion is being allocated to purchase PCR testing kits.

Moving to education, CM Murad said this is the single most important factor that contributes to the development of a country. "The provincial government has allocated Rs277.5 billion, up from the current Rs244.5 billion. The provincial government has increase ADP allocation for education sector to Rs26 billion."

An amount of Rs1.2 billion has also been allocated for scholarships to students securing highest grades in SSC, HSC educational boards of Sindh, he said.

Hitting out at the federal government, he said that out of the total transfers of Rs760 billion, Sindh has actually received Rs617 billion to date.

Development budget 

Mr Shah said that for development projects, Rs329.033 billion had been set aside. He said there was an increase of 41.3% in the development expenditure in this fiscal as compared to the outgoing fiscal year of 2020/21. He said Rs222.500 billion had been allocated for the Annual Development Programme of the province. He said there was 43.5% increase in the ADP. He said Rs30 billion had been given for the Annual Development Programme. He said there was a 100% increase in the ADP. 

Increase in salaries 

The chief minister said that a 20% increase had been suggested for the government employees and a 10% raise in pensions of the retired government workers had been proposed. He said the minimum salary of the laborers would be increased from Rs17,500 to Rs25,000.

Govt to further cut non-development expenditures

The Sindh government has decided to further reduce its non-development expenditures. There will be a ban on the purchase of government vehicles. The government has decided to bring down non-development expenditure by 34%. It is suggested to strike a balance in the expenditures through financial governance. 

The Sindh government has decided to adopt austerity measures. It is estimated that Rs40 billion could be saved by slashing non-development expenses and by adopting austerity measures. 

The estimation of the development budget is 48% higher than the previous fiscal year. 

Protest in Sindh Assembly

The opposition in Sindh Assembly has divided over the protest even before the presentation of budget in the assembly. 

Only two opposition parties namely Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement started their protest while Grand Democratic Alliance stayed away from taking part in the protest.

Financial Assistance 

He said for the financial assistance of people and for the revival of economy Rs30.90 billion had been allocated. The social protection and financial stability had again become part of the budget.  

He said for agriculture, Rs3 billion had been set aside; for citizens’ welfare Rs16 billion; for education Rs3,20 billion; for IT sector Rs1.70 billion; for industrial growth Rs3 billion; for low cost housing Rs2 billion; for Sindh livestock and fisheriesRs1 billion; for women related to agriculture Rs500 million; for special children Rs500 million have been apportioned.

Education 

Mr Shah said that the biggest chunk was set aside for the education. After that come funds for health and local governments, he added. He said for education Rs277.56 billion were allocated. He said the budget for education was increased by 14.2%. 

Health 

He said Rs172.08 billion were earmarked for health. The health budget saw an increase of 29.5%. He said to eliminate the viral diseases in the province Rs24.73 billion were reserved. It also involves health risk allowance, he added.  

Law and order 

The CM said for the maintenance of security and law and order, the provincial government had set aside Rs119.97 billion. 

Local bodies

He said that budget allocation for local government was enhanced by 31.3% with its budget amounting to Rs25.500 billion. For local councilors, Rs80 billion funds were allocated.  

Public health engineering 

For public health engineering Rs7.52 billion were set aside; for social welfare Rs18.61 billion; for rehabilitation Rs1.840 billion; for women development Rs571.97 million; and for transport and mass transit Rs7.64 billion were allocated. 

Development schemes

Rs71 billion have been allocated for schemes being run by foreign donors. A large amount has been set aside to complete the Orange Line Project in the coming fiscal year. Rs5 billion have been apportioned for the construction of bridges and underpasses over Karachi Circular Railway. For the expansion plan of SIUT, Rs900 million have been set aside. 

For elimination of poverty Rs2 billion have been allocated; for local government Rs25 billion; for Governor’s House Rs60 million; for Sindh Assembly Rs300 million; for education Rs26 billion; for health Rs18 billion; for home ministry Rs9 billion; for present schemes Rs1.5 billion and for new schemes Rs7 billion; for mobile health unit Rs1.64 billion; Rs300 million for establishment of Benazir Bhutto Cadet College in Larkana; and Rs8.42 billion for infectious disease control hospitals in Shaheed Benazirabad, Larkana, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, and Sukkur have been earmarked. 

No new taxes

No new taxes were imposed in the financial plan 2021/22. On average, the provincial government will continue work on more than 3,300 schemes in which there will 1,600 new schemes. Of these new schemes, about 600 schemes are expected to finish in this fiscal.

Rs9 billion for viral diseases

For hospitals of viral diseases, Rs9 billion have been earmarked. In Sukkur, Mirpur Khas and Benazirabad, infectious diseases hospitals will be set up. Every divisional infectious diseases hospital will consist of 200 beds. 

No funds were allocated for infectious diseases hospitals in outgoing fiscal year. For the expansion of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, Rs100 million were allocated; Rs1,416 million for upgradation of six hospitals and Rs250 million were set aside for the expansion and refurbishment of district hospitals.

Revenue collection

According to the Sindh budget document, the province will get Rs848 billion under the head of divisible revenue pool and direct transfers. There are no direct taxes in the budget

Police and security

For police and security, Rs 110 billion have been allocated; for health Rs172 billion, for school education Rs215 billion and for college education Rs25 billion have been earmarked. More than half of the education budget would be allocated for non-development purposes. 

For the development and non-development expenditures of the local governments, Rs119.75 billion have been apportioned; for irrigation department Rs53 billion; and for transport Rs14 billion haven been assigned. 

Cabinet approval 

In his tweet, Sindh Information Adviser Murtaza Wahab said Sindh Cabinet has approved an increase of 20% in the salary of government employees and also set the minimum wage at Rs25,000 in the province. No new tax is being introduced by  the Sindh government in Sindh budget

Reporter Ashraf Khan