Assembly passes Rs327bn budget unanimously
By Habib Khan Ghori
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Saturday unanimously passed the Sindh Finance Bill 2009, thus adopting the Rs327 billion provincial budget, with a deficit of Rs16.8 billion, for the financial year 2009-10.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who also holds the finance portfolio, laid the schedule of authorised expenditure for the year 2009-10 before the house soon after the adoption of the bill into law.
After adoption of the budget, Chief Minister Shah, Munawar Ali Abbasi, Shoaib Bokhari, Syed Sardar Ahmad, Ayaz Soomro and Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq from the treasury’s side and Leader of the Opposition Jam Madad Ali and Razzaq Rahimoo from the opposition expressed their gratitude to the speaker for running the house smoothly and for “providing an opportunity to every member who wished to speak on the issue”.
While lauding the speaker for this “fair attitude”, opposition members also congratulated the chief minister and his cabinet on the passage of the budget. They hoped the manner in which the budget was passed would ensure its implementation in the same manner.
Speaker of the House Nisar Ahmad Khuhro thanked both sides of the house for extending cooperation in running business in a smooth manner. He lauded the role of the admittedly small opposition.
He said the performance of the house was the manifestation of the fact that the members had the “welfare and interest of the people close to their hearts”.
All cut motions rejected
Earlier, the house rejected 1,245 cut motions by voice votes which were moved by Leader of the Opposition Jam Madad Ali after clubbing them together under an understanding between him and Mr Shah.
The cut motions were submitted against government demands for grants numbered 1 to 43, of a total of 59, by opposition members Jam Madad Ali, Rafique Bhanban, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Syeda Marvi Rashdi of the PML-F and Sheheryar Mehar, Muhammad Ali Malkani and Abdul Razzaq Rahimoo of the PML-Q.
The remaining grants, numbered 44 to 59, were passed unanimously.
Before putting the cut motions to the house to seek its opinion, Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro gave the floor to Shaheryar Mehar, Razzaq Rahimoo, Nusrat Abbasi and Jam Madad Ali from the opposition and to Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, Ayaz Soomro, Sardar Ahmad, Syed Murad Ali Shah and Syed Qaim Ali Shah from the treasury benches to convince the house of their respective positions.
The opposition said that through their cut motions they had suggested that huge non-development expenditures be cut and the money thus saved be utilised for providing relief to the common man.
Jam Madad Ali dispelled the impression given by the treasury side that the opposition was “against providing relief to the poor by allocation of funds for low-cost housing units or water supply schemes in Tharparkar”.
Mr Ali asserted that the budget was a deficit budget and that with the prevailing economic climate, the government should not invest in physical assets.
“We have extended cooperation not out of any greed,” he said, “but in the larger interest of Sindh and its people. We have done our duty by submitting cut motions, despite the fact that we knew that they would not be adopted.” Speakers from the treasury side, opposing the cut motions, said that all allocations, including demands for grants where cut motions had been moved, were aimed at delivering to the masses. They said that they were given a mandate by the people on the basis of a manifesto which reflected the vision of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the late Benazir Bhutto.
The chief minister lauded the spirit of the opposition and their efforts in preparing cut motions.
Defending the demands for grants against which cut motions were moved, he said the increased allocations were not hefty, and kept in view rising prices, increases in salaries and allowances, and the need for providing modern weapons to the police.
He said that in the education, health and other departments the increased demands for grants were aimed at appointing teachers and doctors and at ensuring that medicines were provided in schools and health units.