Sindh CM Murad presents Rs 2.24 trillion deficit budget

Govt employees to get upto 35 pc raise n Minimum wage crosses Rs 35,000

KARACHI   -   In a rare hooliganism-free envi­ronment budget laying speech during the current tenure, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who also holds Finance portfolio, on Saturday presented Rs. 2.24 trillion ‘tax free’ budget for the financial year 2023-24 with a deficit of Rs. 37.79 billion.

Unlike the previous years, op­position parties including Mut­tahida Qaumi Movement-Paki­stan, Grand Democratic Alliance, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal calm­ly listened to the CM’s speech with major opposition party in the Sindh Assembly Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf continued its absence as they were not making to the as­sembly after 9th May’s violent in­cidence. The development outlay was estimated Rs. 700.1 billion, which mainly aimed at rehabilita­tion of flood-affected people.

The total revenue receipts of the provincial government had been estimated at Rs. 2,209.785 billion, representing an increase of 31.56 percent from the con­cluding financial year 2022-2023, against the estimated ex­penditures of Rs 2,247.581 billion, representing a shortfall or deficit of Rs. 37.795 billion.

The CM—who was presenting his 12th budget as Finance Min­ister and seventh as the chief minister holding the Finance portfolio, also announced to in­crease the minimum wage in the province from Rs. 25000 to 35,500. He also announced up to 35 per cent salary increase for provincial government em­ployees and 17.5 per cent raise in the pension. The employ­ees from BPS-1 to 16 would get 35 per cent raise while BPS-17 and above employees to get 30 per cent increase. The other ad­hoc relief would be the same as had been announced by the fed­eral government. Murad in his speech also vowed to provide social protection to the poor people of the province.

REVENUE RECEIPTS

The estimated Total Receipts of the province include three revenue receipts: Current Rev­enue Receipts estimated at Rs. 1,823.126 billion, Current Cap­ital Receipts estimated at Rs. 36.133 billion, and Other Re­ceipts estimated at Rs. 295.53 billion. In addition to the rev­enue receipts, Carryover Cash Balance was estimated to be Rs. 45 billion and the net balance of the Public Accounts of the Prov­ince was estimated to be Rs. 10 billion, with Rs. 5,585.66 billion in Receipts and Rs. 5,575.66 bil­lion in disbursements, in the Fi­nancial Year 2023-24.

Current Revenue Receipts in­clude a total of Rs. 1,353.2 bil­lion Federal Transfers in the form of Revenue Assignment estimated at Rs. 1,225 billion, Straight Transfers estimated at Rs. 64.42 billion, and Grants to offset losses of the abolition of OZT estimated at Rs. 33.74 bil­lion. In addition, the head of Revenue Receipts includes es­timated Provincial Tax Receipts of Rs. 202.9 billion, Provincial Sales Tax on Services of Rs. 235 billion, and Provincial Non-Tax Receipts of Rs. 32 billion. 

Current Capital Receipts in­clude Local Repayments/Loans estimated to be Rs. 6.133 billion and Bank Borrowing estimated to be Rs. 30 billion. Other Re­ceipts include Foreign Project Assistance (FPA) budgeted at Rs. 266.7 billion, Other Federal Grants budgeted at Rs. 22.9 bil­lion, and Foreign Grants budget­ed at Rs. 5.92 billion. 

EXPENDITURES

The estimated expenditure of Rs. 2,247.58 billion includes Current Revenue Expenditure of Rs. 1,411.2 billion, Current Cap­ital Expenditure of Rs. 136.26 billion, and Development Ex­penditure Rs. 700.1 billion. The latter includes Provincial ADP excluding FPA of Rs. 380.5 bil­lion, Foreign Project Assistance of Rs. 266.7 billion, Other Feder­al Grants of Rs. 22.91 billion, and District ADP of Rs. 30 billion.

EDUCATION

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Mu­rad Ali Shah while presenting the annual budget for the next financial year 2023-24 said that education is most essen­tial investment and acknowl­edged worldwide as the most powerful agent of change. He said, ‘We aim at improving ac­cess to equitable, inclusive and quality education for all.’ He said that the provincial govern­ment has earmarked an amount of Rs312.245 billion for educa­tion sector in budget estimates 2023-24, presenting a 7 percent increase over last year’s budget estimates Rs292.47 billion.

The School Education budget had been enhanced by 13.1 per­cent to Rs. 267.6 billion, health budget increased to Rs.227.8 billion, denoting a 10.1 per­cent growth. Murad said that the Sindh government had been successful in attracting and se­curing Chinese grants of Rs. 7,659 million for the rehabilita­tion and reconstruction of 646 schools. Under the Flood Resto­ration Program and Sindh De­velopment Through Enhanced Education Program (DEEP), 112 damaged schools would be rehabilitated on resilient and environmentally friendly fabri­cated structures in five districts for Rs. 3,011 million.

HEALTH

The CM said that the bud­get estimates 2023-24 for health services had been pro­posed to be Rs.214.547 billion, for non-development activities against the budget estimates of Rs.196.454 billion for financial year 2022-23. He said, ‘We have spent more than Rs233 billion in CFY 2022-23 to provide state-of-the-art healthcare infrastruc­ture and easily accessible health facilities to general public and running programs for preven­tion and control of diseases.

LAW & ORDER

The chief minister said that Sindh government had careful­ly prioritized the allocation of funds for Home departmentt at Rs 143.568 billion for the next financial year 2023-24 with a 15 percent increase over last year’s allocation of Rs 124.87 billion.He also announced Rs.15.5 mil­lion each to the Prison’s Pol­icy and Management Boards for strategic improvements. Rs. 463.414 million for strength­ening the prison department’s technical capabilities. 

LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Murad said that the provincial government was actively sup­porting all the local councils in Sindh in order to ensure better services delivery. The budget es­timates 2023-24 for Grants to Local Bodies had been proposed to be Rs.88.00 billion. He said that the Grant-in-Aid for Hyder­abad Municipal Corporation, Sukkur Municipal Corporation, and Larkana Municipal Corpo­ration has been increased from Rs.30 million to Rs.45 million. The Special Grant-in-Aid for Ka­rachi Metropolitan Corporation had been enhanced from Rs.600 million to Rs.650 million.

EMPOWERMENT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Murad said that according to World Health Organization, 15 percent of the world’s pop­ulation are persons with dis­abilities who were found to be socially and economically dis­criminated segments of the so­ciety. He viewed that Sindh government was determined to extend support through im­parting vocational education, I.T skills and supplying assis­tive technology with artificial intelligence applications to em­power them to contribute to the developmental process. “To achieve this noble cause, CM announced a provision of Rs 6.1 billion for the year 2023-24 against the budget of Rs 3.4 billion in the current financial year 2022-23,” Murad added.

WOMEN DEVELOPMENT

The CM told the house that the Women Development and Em­powerment department budget estimated for the financial year 2023-24 had been proposed at Rs 705.983 million against last year’s allocation of Rs 644.125 million. He said that a provision of Rs.500 million had been kept for the Benazir Women Agricul­tural Workers Program. This program will improve the agri­cultural output and living stan­dards of rural women associat­ed with the agricultural field.

WHEAT SUBSIDY

The CM also announced an al­location of Rs. 63 billion to en­sure a consistent supply of subsidized wheat to mills and af­fordable wheat flour to the pub­lic; and a budgetary provision of Rs. 16.9 billion for the Pro-Poor Social Protection & Economic Sustainability Program.

TRANSPORT

Transport Budget had wit­nessed a growth rate of 167.8 percent, rising from Rs. 5 billion to Rs. 13.4 billion. The govern­ment was also going to establish modern terminals at Karachi, Thatta, Badin, and Miro Khan in the first phase. The construc­tion of bus terminals at That­ta Raod and Miro Khan is under process. The Green Line BRT project was being implement­ed at a cost of Rs 2.36 billion. The corridor is 3.88 kilometers in length and will carry 50,000 passengers per day. 

The CM said that Red Line BRT will be a State of the Art Third Generation BRT System with a development expenditure of Rs 78.38 billion. The Project is a Zero Subsidy Project and 250 Bio-Hybrid Buses will provide service to more than 350,000 passengers per day. Additional­ly, we are also spending Rs 2.91 billion to improve the drainage along the Corridor and more than 25,000 trees will be plant­ed in addition to the landscap­ing works worth PKR 63.4 mil­lion along the corridor.

IRRIGATION SYSTEM

Murad said that Sindh had one of the largest irrigation sys­tems in the country but it faced colossal losses in the last rain and floods which now needed an extra funding in the next fi­nancial year. He said that a sig­nificant amount of Rs 25.703 billion had been kept in budget estimates 2023-24. It included Rs.900 million for silt clearance, Rs 5 billion for overall repair and maintenance of the system, and Rs.750 million for the Sa­linity Control and Reclamation Program (SCARP).

HOUSING

He said that Sindh Housing Project had been immediately launched in targeted areas for the rehabilitation of flood-affect­ed people. As of May 2023, the government had received $230 million equivalent to Rs. 64.669 billion under these projects which are being expended on re­lief and rehabilitation activities.

In addition to the above, other projects that support the people of Sindh in the flood-affected ar­eas include the $500 million Flood Emergency Rehabilita­tion Project, the $500 million Floods Emergency Housing Re­construction Project, the $292 million Water, and Agriculture Transformation Project, and the $200 million Strengthening So­cial Protection Delivery System Project. $200 million Integrated Health and Population Project.

LIVESTOCK

The CM announced a Rs 10.987 billion budget estimate for live­stock and fisheries for the next year 2023-24. It includes Rs. 150 million for the newly estab­lished Livestock Breeding Ser­vices Authority, Rs. 120 million for holding the Sindh Livestock Expo Event, and Rs. 1.88 billion for the implementation of the Accelerated Action Plan in the livestock sector for addressing stunting and malnutrition.

FORESTATION

A provision of Rs.2.78 billion has been earmarked in Budget Estimates 2023-24 for non-de­velopment expenditure related to Forest and Wildlife against Rs.2.45 billion in 2022-23. It includes Rs.368 million for the conservancy and development of new forest nurseries. 

MANGROVES & GREEN JOBS

He said that Sindh govern­ment was committed to an un­conditional contribution to a global drive for reducing green­house gas emissions. Murad Shah said that his govt would be able to earn $200-220 million, equivalent to around Rs 63 bil­lion, of carbon credits over the next two decades for its efforts to expand mangrove forests.

THE SINDH SAFE 

CITIES PROJECT

The chief minister also an­nounced a much-awaited Rs. 10 billion for `The Sindh Safe Cit­ies Project’ (Phase-I), for Karachi with a substantial allocation of Rs. 4.5 billion for the year 2023-24. The new project including the connectivity of Lyari -Gujjar Nala in Central for Rs1.5 billion, the Construction of the Sea Wall and Road from Dolman Mall to China Port, Clifton for Rs1430 million, Construction of a 6-lane Express­way way from the existing Jinnah Bridge along with Lyari Naddi to Hawksbay, including bridge crossing on main Hawkasbay road and a small bridge on navy maritime security jetty area, Keamari for Rs1.8 billion, Con­struction of a 2+2 lane under­pass at Karimabad Distt: Central for Rs1.35 billion, and establish­ment of Campuses of Public Sec­tor Universities in Districts of Karachi - Korangi, West, Kiamari for Rs4000 million. 

NO NEW TAX

Murad was of the view that his government was cognizant of hardship faced by inflation ridden common people. “On the footsteps of previous two years, we have adopted a strategy of rationalizing various tax bases to protect underprivileged seg­ments of society from unnec­essary financial burden. With these rationalizations the afflu­ent class will be taxed to gen­erate revenue to provide nec­essary relief to general public. Some provisions will be simpli­fied and rationalized to reduce the compliance burden, pro­mote the entrepreneurial spirit and provide tax relief to people and businesses,” he added.

ANNUAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

The Chief Minister announced an Rs410 billion ADP for next fi­nancial year 2023-24. The ADP Includes Rs.410 billion Annu­al Development Program (ADP) which is Rs. 380 billion for Pro­vincial ADP and Rs.30 billion for District ADP. Rs291.727 bil­lion have been allocated for the 3,311 ongoing schemes and Rs.88.273 billion for 1,937 new schemes. The chief minis­ter has allocated 80 percent of development funds for ongoing schemes so that they could be completed. The focus of the de­velopment budget for FY 2023-24 is to capitalize on the current portfolio in the aftermath of the flood situation and initiate new projects, particularly in those sectors which cater to the reha­bilitation of infrastructure that was damaged during the heavy rains and floods in 2022.