By Arbab Chandio
KARACHI: The Sindh government presented a deficit budget of Rs 327 billion with a 15% increase in government staff salaries Monday to the Cabinet. The deficit comes to about Rs 16.8 billion.
The total revenue is put at Rs 310 billion and the government intends to tackle the deficit by improving revenue collection and pursuing arrears on GST.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah presented the budget that set aside 27 billion rupees for development. Sindh is the first province to set aside money for the people rendered homeless by the fighting in Swat – Rs 200 million.
Sindh's social security programme will get 15 billion rupees. Part of this plan includes giving land to 5,000 landless peasants and rehabilitating up to 40 institutions of the Sindh Technical and Vocational Authority. The Benazir Bhutto Development Programme will get Rs 2.5 billion to train 75,000 young people.
Factory workers will get a higher pension of Rs 1,500 and students will get free books till grade 12. A new Benazir Women Support Program will target 0.5 million poor women, to be identified by MPAs who will be given four billion rupees. A Sindh Bank will be launched to focus on microfinance, agrculture credit and urban slums. The government also plans to undertake a School nutrition programme with two billion rupees.
LAW AND ORDER
The Sindh police get 11 percent more money at Rs 24.2 billion with Rs 1.2 billion to buy new vehicles and other equipment.
Special forces will be deployed to tackle the land mafia with Rs 19.17 million. Up to 5,000 new posts will be created and a 1,000-person strong Rapid Response Force will be trained to tackle terrorists. Four hundreds million has been set aside for e-policing.
Separate court police and jail platoons will be created with 300 million rupees.
At present 37 rupees is spent on each prisoner's food per day but this is being raised 120 percent to Rs 75 per day (Rs 547 million). Jail allocations for medicine have been raised to Rs 25 million from a mere Rs 2.5 million and 25 million rupees have been set aside for bedding and furniture.
The government will also explore the possibility of outsourcing essential services to charities such as Edhi.
The Sindh health development budget has nearly doubled to Rs 5.23 billion from Rs 3.5 billion. It is working on community health management boards for all hospitals down to the taluka level. There are plans to set up burns and thalessemia centres, and an SIUT centre in Khairpur and Sukkur.
Six billion rupees will be spent on education in Sindh in the next fiscal year, a 27 percent increase from last year. The Education Reform Programme is being implemented with the support of the World Bank for which Sindh received $100 million last week. The girl child stipend has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,400.
The Sindh government will spend Rs 3.79 billion on water and sanitation, Rs 4.8 billion on agriculture (an 89% improvement), Rs 13.55 billion for roads.
WATCH Shahid Rind summarise the budget speech here: