Rs 869.1 bln Sindh budget presented

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Rs 869.1 bln Sindh budget presented

KARACHI, June 11 (APP): Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali
Shah Saturday presented the Sindh Budget 2016-17 for Rs 869.1 billion in the Sindh Assembly.

Speaking in the assembly, he said the Annual Development Programme
(ADP) for the coming financial year would be Rs 225 billion,
39 per cent increase over the current year’s ADP, which he termed was
a great achievement.

He said the Sindh government would be able to mobilize additional resources through better revenue generation as well as through
borrowing from the domestic market as per the ceiling given by the
NEC (National Economic Council).

These additional revenues would be spent on development
portfolio, as the government would ensure that the current budget
should not increase by more than 13 per cent.

This, he said, was despite the fact that the salary and pension expenditure had to increase in order to provide relief to government employees and also to create new jobs. Moreover, the provincial
government had also ensured that allocation for such important
functions, as maintenance and repair of the existing infrastructure, non-salary expenditure of schools, and budget for the medicines and
other equipment of the hospitals should increase substantially.

The minister said the focus of this budget was the overall
betterment and welfare of the people, for which efficient and optimal utilization of the resources was mandatory, given that effective public financial management has direct impact on service delivery.

The government, he said, aimed at to move towards a peaceful
and prosperous Sindh by bringing about sustainable and inclusive socio-economic, infrastructural and human resource development.
Referring to the status of National Finance Commission (NFC), he
said it was the responsibility of the Federal Government to announce
the NFC Award for a period of five years under Article 160
of the Constitution. The last NFC award was to end on June 30, 2015.
He called for the earliest completion of NFC.

Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali said that another
key feature of the budget 16-17 was a significant increase in
the allocations for some of the smaller departments, which perform
important social welfare functions but generally get smaller share
in resource allocation.

He said these departments include Social Welfare, Special
Education, Sports and Youth Affairs, Women Development and
Minorities Affairs.

The budget for Social Welfare department was being increased
by 65.5%, with the additional amount to be spent on improvement of
facilities like Dar-ul-Amans and Dar-ul-Atfals etc.

The overall budget for Special Education Department had been
increased by 35%, but the non-salary budget has surged by 433% and
this additional amount would be spent on improving the 50 facilities
meant for Special children across the province.

The budget for the Sports and Youth Affairs department had
been increased by 46% to provide better avenues of development for the youth of the province.

The budget for the Women Development department has been increased by 149%, most of which will be spent to provide microfinance facilities to women entrepreneurs and also to provide legal aid services to needy women.

The grant for Minorities is being increased from Rs 100 million
to Rs 300 million, an increase of a massive 200%, which will be spent
on different welfare schemes for the minorities.

The minister said the Sindh Government’s tax administration was performing well and hoped that the current year’s target of
Rs 124 billion would be achieved.

Sindh Revenue Board (SRB) had done exceptionally well in achieving
the challenging target of Rs 61 billion, which he said, had been
possible due to the efforts of its staff but the credit would
go to ts chairman Tashfeen Niaz.

He said the Excise and Taxation department also succeeded in
achieving the target.

Considering this excellent performance, the minister said the
Sindh Government had set more challenging targets for these two
entities in next financial year. Our overall tax collection was
estimated at Rs 154 billion for fiscal year 2016-17, which was
24% higher than the current year’s target.

He said there were no new taxes which would affect the common man.
“In fact we are reducing the rate of sales tax on service from the
current 14% to 13%. We have rationalized certain taxes.”

He said the SRB was being assigned a task to collect Rs 78 billion
which would be 28% higher than the current years’ collection. It was
an ambitious but achievable goal.

He said the Excise and Taxation department also got a challenging
target of Rs 52 billion, 24% higher than the current year’s target of
Rs 42 billion.

The minister said the Board of Revenue had been assigned a target
of Rs 16.8 billion with the confidence that it would achieve it by introducing reforms and automation in its collection mechanism.
“Our efforts in tax collection have been a source of satisfaction
for us as we have seen a growth of 18% during last three years, higher
than the growth in tax collection achieved by any other government
in Pakistan,” he claimed.

The additional revenues the government had generated, he said,
were available to finance the very healthy ADP of Rs 225 billion
budgeted for the next fiscal year.

It was the result of better fiscal management during last three
years that such a high growth in development portfolio was aimed for,
he added.

The minister said the government had managed to keep a check on unproductive government expenditure. Austerity measures were introduced into the financial management. A whole set of PFM reforms aiming at more transparency and accountability were introduced. There had been a ban on procurement of new vehicles except for the operational vehicles for police and hospitals etc.

He said procurement of other luxury items like air conditioners etc.
had also been kept under control.

Sindh’s Senior Minister for Finance, Planning and Development Syed
Murad Ali Shah started his budget speech with thanks to all political
groups and their leaders for cooperating and supporting Sindh Government, which he said, will continue in future.

The Minister said, “the budget of 2016-17 has also been prepared
in consonance with the collective vision of our leaders and he feels
honored to present the people-friendly Budget of fiscal year 2016-17.”
He said Pakistan Peoples Party has made innumerable sacrifices
primarily for the successful continuation of democracy and to ensure
that the people of Pakistan not only have a say in setting out
priorities of governance and development, but they shall be the actual
drivers of change.

For this purpose, this year’s budget has also been set out in
the spirit of reconciliation and participatory politics, aimed
towards the establishment of a just, equitable, and egalitarian
society. The ruling party in Sindh, PPP believed in the politics of
inclusion, participation and reconciliation. Thus, the government will
try to ensure that every step is taken jointly and every decision is
made with participation and consensus of all parties involved.

He thanked the members of the Assembly, both from the
treasury and opposition benches, for their support and looked
forward to their cooperation in future.

He acknowledged the leadership of political parties both in
the assembly and outside, especially Altaf Hussain (MQM), Pir
Sahab Pagara of PML(F), Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), Imran Khan (PTI), Asfandiyar Wali (ANP), Moulana Siraj-ul-Haq (JI) and Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman (JUI-F).

He said that the whole democratic setup including this house stands
for the service of the people of Sindh. Through the democratic process
they have reposed their faith in us, and it is incumbent upon us to
live up to their expectations.

He said PPP leadership and the government’s vision was across the
board service of the people of Sindh. Through this budget, we have put
in maximum efforts to translate this dream into actionable plans.