KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Saturday unveiled a budget of Rs2.2 trillion for the fiscal year 2023-24 after the approval of his cabinet which mainly focuses on the rehabilitation of flood-affected people and the poor.
Speaking during the budget speech, the chief minister said that the province faced an additional burden of Rs100 billion this year due to natural disasters and floods. Hence, the budget has a development outlay of Rs700.1 billion that centres around flood affectees and social protection for the poor.
Recalling the disastrous floods that submerged one-third of the country last year, CM Murad said Rs87 billion were given for flood rehabilitation under the provincial Annual Development Programme.
“The Sindh government held a conference on the rehabilitation of flood victims in Karachi after the Geneva conference during which the investors were encouraged to invest in the restoration of infrastructure,” he added.
Shedding light on the damage caused by the floods on the province, CM Murad said about 4.4 million acres of agricultural land has been destroyed while 60% of road network was severely affected.
Sharing the details of the budget, the CM said the total receipts of the provincial government would be around Rs2.21 trillion, representing an increase of 31.56% from the concluding financial year 2022-2023 against expenditures of Rs2.2 trillion which shows a deficit of Rs37.795 billion.
The chief minister elaborated that the revenue receipts include Rs1.823 trillion current revenue receipts, Rs36.133 billion current capital receipts and Rs295.3 billion other receipts.
In addition to the revenue receipts, Rs45 billion carryover cash balance, Rs10 billion net balance of the public accounts of the province, Rs5.58 trillion in receipts and Rs5.57 trillion in disbursements for the financial year 2023-24.
CM Murad further said that the current revenue receipts include a total of Rs1.35 trillion federal transfers in the form of Rs1.22 trillion revenue assignment, Rs64.42 billion straight transfers and grants to offset losses of the abolition of OZT estimated at Rs33.74 billion.
Moreover, Rs202.9 billion provincial tax receipts, Rs235 billion provincial sales tax, Rs32 billion provincial non-tax receipts, Rs6.133 billion current capital receipts, Rs30 billion bank borrowing with other receipts including Rs266.7 billion foreign project assistance (FPA), Rs22.9 billion other federal grants and Rs5.92 billion foreign grants.
Regarding the expenditures, CM Sindh said that revenue expenditures for the next financial year would be Rs1.41 trillion, capital expenditures will be around Rs136.26 billion, development expenditure will be Rs700.1 billion including provincial Annual Development Programme (ADP) excluding FPAs of Rs380.5, Rs266.7 billion, other federal grants of Rs22.91 billion and district ADP of Rs30 billion.
Increase in salary
In a relief to government employees, CM Murad announced a 35% increase in the basic salary of employees grade 1 to 16 and a 30% increase for employees of grade 17 and above.
The minimum wage has been increased from Rs25,000 to Rs35,550. Meanwhile, other adhoc relief would the same as has been announced by the federal government.
The chief minister said that his government has enhanced the budget for school education by 13.1% to Rs267.6 billion. He said that the government has also been successful in attracting and securing Chinese grants of Rs7.6 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 646 schools.
Moreover, 112 damaged schools would be rehabilitated on resilient and environmentally friendly fabricated structures in five districts for Rs3.01 billion under the Flood Restoration Programme and Sindh Development Through Enhanced Education Programme (DEEP).
Under Sindh Education & Literacy Department (SE&LD) portfolio, 46 new schemes related to the repair and rehabilitation of existing schools damaged by rain, have been included at an estimated cost of Rs4.41 billion, and 45 schemes have been dedicated to the construction/reconstruction of existing schools affected by the flood at cost of Rs4.49 billion.
Meanwhile, a new scheme titled “Programme for Flood Response Through Reconstruction Of Education Facilities in Sindh” in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been proposed. The share of the Government of Sindh is Rs142.4 million has been proposed in ADP (2023-24) for districts such as Mirpurkhas, Khairpur, Badin, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sukkur, Ghotki and Dadu. Moreover, the share of JICA is estimated to be Rs1.42 billion.
CM Murad also announced an allocation of Rs63 billion to ensure a consistent supply of subsidised wheat to mills and affordable wheat flour to the public and a budgetary provision of Rs16.9 billion for the Poor Social Protection and Economic Sustainability Programme.
The chief minister said that the grant to local councils has been kept at Rs88 billion with an increase of 4.8%.
He further said that the transport budget has witnessed an impressive growth rate of 167.8% — rising from Rs5 billion to Rs13.4 billion.
Similarly, the allocation for energy has experienced a notable increase of 57.8%, reaching a total of Rs47.9 billion while the health budget climbed to Rs227.8 billion, denoting a 10.1% growth.
Green Line and Red Line
The chief minister also stated the bus rapid transit (BRT) project is being implemented at a cost of Rs2.36 billion. Meanwhile, the red line will have a development expenditure of Rs78.38 billion.
“Additionally, we are also spending Rs2.91 billion to improve the drainage along the corridor and more than 25,000 trees will be planted in addition to the landscaping works worth Rs63.4 million along the corridor,” said the CM.
Sindh, which has one of the largest irrigation systems in the country, demands an extra funding due to losses it faced during floods. A significant amount of Rs25.703 billion has been kept in budget including Rs900 million for silt clearance, Rs5 billion for overall repair and maintenance of the system, and Rs750 million for the Salinity Control and Reclamation Program (SCARP).
Law and order
Keeping in view the law and order situation of the province, CM Murad said that the Sindh government has carefully prioritised the allocation of funds, keeping them at Rs143.568 billion for the next financial year.
The Women Development & Empowerment department has a budget of Rs705.983 million against last year’s allocation of Rs644.125 million.