Budget debate witnesses opposition-style speeches from treasury benches in Sindh assembly

KARACHI:,,, Seven MPAs of ruling Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and one member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) delivered opposition-style speeches in Sindh Assembly on Monday.

PPPP MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi, and MQM lawmakers Khalid Ahmed, Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, Muhammad Rashid Khilji, Waqar Hussain Shah, Khalid Bin Vilayat, Waseem ud Din Qureshi and Poonjo Bheel in their speech on budget debate complained that the distribution of funds were not on equitable basis and their constituencies were generally ignored.

Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi said the PPP is visionary party based on pro-people ideas of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto. He said the vision of this party is to safeguard the rights of people. He regretted that injustice was done to his voters and constituency as they were ignored in development schemes and funds. He said that the government has failed to give priority to corruption control, adding without controlling corruption people would not get justice. He said it needs deputing honest officers and sidelining the corrupt ones. He regretted during last six years Sindh chief minister has failed to do this. He said Ghotki provided a huge share of revenue collection but us went ignored in development schemes and funds. He demanded justice and giving people their due share. Quoting a saying of Hazrat Ali (RA), he said a government based on Kufr can survive, but a government based on injustice cannot.

MQM’s Khalid Ahmed said that in his budget speech the Chief Minister had quoted Bhutto that “either power must pass to the people or everything will perish.” He said during last five years power could not be given to people through local governments, which is also a constitutional obligation. He said even in this budget the Sindh government has not earmarked any funds to hold local government elections.

He said new taxes have been slapped on poor masses. He said motorcycles are used by poor and low income people and taxes are increased on motorcycle users, which is sheer injustice and tantamount to deprive them of their property. In this regard he also quoted a ruling of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which said that excessive taxation is equal to forcibly forfeit the properties of citizens which is illegal.

He said by levying tax on services the government has not even let off poor washer men. He said his party has been demanding levy of agriculture tax for a long time but it is being imposed by the government. He demanded to make the provincial budget people-friendly by withdrawing new taxes.

MQM’s Sabir Qaimkhani said the requirements of urban and rural areas are different and the cities of Sindh should be given their needed facilities. He regretted that the development funds of the second largest city of Sindh, Hyderabad, are less than the funds of Larkana and Benazirabad.

He asked to augment local government institutions financially and administratively to facilitate masses. He said the citizens of rural areas enjoy subsidies in different forms and such facilities should also be extended to the residents of the urban areas. He said local people should be given preference in government recruitments.

He said establishment of a government university in Hyderabad is a popular demand but the government is not taking steps for establishment of this varsity. He said 18000 to 20000 Intermediate passed students of Hyderabad are deprived of admissions for higher education and the proposed Hyderabad University would cater their needs.

He said when the government accepts any foreign aid or assistance it should apprise the Sindh assembly while it felt need to accept such assistances. He asked to complete the ongoing schemes on time.

Muhammad Rashid Khilji of MQM said the genuine issue of Hyderabad University should not be politicized. He requested the chief minster to announce establishment of this varsity when he wraps up the budget. He asked a special package of not less than Rs2billion for Hyderabad.

MQM’s Waqar Hussain Shah said big districts of Karachi were neglected in the provincial budget. He said Karachi is being meted out a step-motherly treatment. He said load shedding of electricity is the biggest issue of Karachi, but despite several announcements on Thar Coal schemes and release of funds, not concrete step is yet taken to generate coal-based electricity in Thar. He said the Metro Bus project was meant for Karachi, but due to negligence it was established in Lahore. He also passed some seething remarks about Sindh chief minister, whoever, the chair ordered to expunge them.

Khalid Bin Vilayat said suggestions of his party were not incorporated in the provincial budget. He said the provincial budget is teemed with new taxes and it is feared that after passage of the budget a wave of protests would start in Sindh. He regretted Karachi is neglected in development schemes, even if compared with the development schemes of Khairpur district.

Waseem ud Din Qureshi of MQM also criticized the provincial budget. He said this budget shows that bureaucracy has won and the masses are defeated. He said the burning problems of masses were not addressed. He said today Karachi is begging for her rights. He said urban citizens are living worse lives than rural citizens. He said agriculture tax is not included in the provincial budget though more than 85perecent of economy depends on agriculture sector. He demanded to introduce a rationing system for urban residents so that they can get wheat flour and sugar on subsidized rates. He also mentioned the quotation of Hazrat Ali (RA) about justice and asked the rulers to mend their ways.

Poonjo Bheel of MQM also complained of discrimination and said the areas that lead in revenue generation should also be preferred in revenue spending. He said there is a Rs42billion package for Karachi but it also includes huge expenditures of Sindh Governor House, Chief Minister House and Sindh Assembly. He said the government should give equal attention to all areas and give all people justice. He thanked the government for giving more funds to district Tharparkar. He opposed taxes on services sector.

Dr Muhammad Rafiq Banbhan of PML-F said law and order condition in Khairpur, the district of Sindh chief minister is the worst. He said kidnapping of ransom and snatching of bikes is rife in the province. He asked the government to earmark some fund to compensate those people whose bikes are being snatched by bandits.

He charged the Sindh local government department is the most corrupt department, saying there is no accountability of spending of funds of this department. He said ignoring constituencies of opposition MPAs is discrimination that should be ended, as it is against the spirit of what he called ‘sister democracy’.

However, PPPP lawmaker Dr Suhrab Sarki defended the provincial budget. He said we are ready to hold the local government elections, but the matter pertains to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). He said record development schemes have been carried out in his constituency which was badly hit by last floods. He said the PPPP has always served masses and continue to do so in future.

Ghazala Siyal of PPPP said when MQM’s nazims were Hyderabad the area of Qasimabad was neglected. She said in the present budget women education has been given priority. She said the federal government should release the funds of Sindh. She congratulated the government for presenting a pro-people budget.

Irum Khalid of PPPP said the government has presented a budget that is aimed at the welfare of people. She said the new development surcharge levy on natural gas by the federal government would increase price hike and it should be withdrawn. She said the project of Karachi Circular Railway has been put on the back burner. She said the Sindh government has reduced sales tax on services from 16 percent to 15 percent which would facilitate the masses.

The house unanimously passed two identical resolutions to supports the army operation Zarb-e-Azb. They said the whole nation stands behind the Pak Army.

Later, the speaker adjourned the house till Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 10:00am.

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