PA passes 49 demands for grants in budget
By Habib Khan Ghori
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Thursday voted and passed all 49 demands for grants on supplementary expenditure of over Rs55.85 billion for the year 2008-09 after all 360 cut motions moved by six members from the opposition were rejected by voice votes.
Before the cut motions were put to a vote by Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, one of the movers was allowed to make brief arguments for their acceptance, as agreed by Leader of the Opposition Jam Madad Ali on the suggestion of Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Bureau of Supply and Prices Minister Shoaib Bokhari.
The motion was opposed vehemently by the chief minister when it was put to the house.
After rejection of the cut motions, which were submitted against demands number 1, 4, 10, 14, 19, 22 and 26, the house unanimously passed the remaining 42 demands.
The movers of the cut motions were Abdul Razzaq Rahimoo, Shaheryar Mehar and Muhammad Malkani of the PML-Q and Dr Muhammad Rafique Bhanban, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Syeda Marvi Rashdi. Their cut motions were against seven demands for grants totalling over Rs72 million.
The charged expenditure was not debated at all, as none of the members offered anything by way of discussion when it came before them.
Earlier, before giving the floor to Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the speaker wound up the general discussion on the budget for the financial year 2009-10 by pointing out that 135 members had so far spoken on the budget.
CM defends budget
Rising from his seat, the chief minister vehemently defended the budget provisions, which he said were prepared in the light of the vision of the late Benazir Bhutto and the election manifesto which she had announced a few days before her death.
He highlighted the achievements of his government during the last year in different sectors by quoting facts and figures of enhanced allocations over the last year in the education, health, agriculture, roads, law and order and city development sectors. He said the steps taken were aimed at increasing the welfare of the people, alleviation of poverty, empowering women and providing jobs to youth.
He said that 40,000 acres of land had been given to landless Haris, “80 per cent of whom were women”. They were also provided Rs14,000 for purchase of fertiliser and seeds.
He said 41,000 youths were being provided training for gainful work and 15,000 jobs were made available for them.
He also referred to low-cost housing schemes for the poor in coastal areas, where in the first phase 10,000 units would be built. He said even in Karachi the government had allotted 300 acres of land for the purpose.
The chief minister also spoke about the Rs2.4 billion which was allocated for agro-based businesses. He said an MoU was signed with China, and a Chinese agri-expert would come to Pakistan and help farmers to grow quality seeds whose per acre production is 140 maund for rice, 80-100 maund for cotton and almost double the regular figure for sugarcane.
He recalled the three big challenges which were before his government when they took over in April 2008, namely the issues of the NFC award, water and Thar Coal. He said the water issue was resolved by burying the Kalabagh Dam project for good. As for the NFC award, according to the prime minister’s commitment, it would be announced within the next two months and for the new budget an interim relief of Rs45 billion had been provided by the federal government.
The Thar coal ownership issue was resolved for good as the right of Sindh over the coal reserves were recognised by the setting up of the Thar Coal management board under his chairmanship.
Food Minister Nawabzada Nadir Ali Magsi clarified that when he accused the irrigation minister of being “naive” during his speech on Thursday, he was referring to the former irrigation minister, and not current minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who he called “quite competent”.
Leader of the Opposition Jam Madad Ali, Senior Minister and PPP Parliamentary Party leader Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, MQM Parliamentary Party leader and Minister Syed Sardar Ahmad and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro also spoke.