A Balanced Budget

Following in the footsteps of Punjab, the Sindh government has presented a budget emphasizing “a balanced approach” in line with federal directions, showcasing fiscal responsibility amidst challenging economic times.

The Rs3.056 trillion budget, announced on Friday, not only aligns revenues and expenditures but also brings substantial relief to provincial government employees with a proposed salary hike of up to 30%—something that it has in common with the Federal and Punjab budgets.

In an era of rising inflation, the increase in salaries and pensions is a timely and necessary measure—proposing a 30% salary increase for grades 1 to 6, a 25% increase for grades 7 to 16, and a 22% increase for grades 17 and above. Additionally, a 15% pension increase provides much-needed support for retirees. These steps reflect an awareness of the hardships faced by government employees, who not only earn less than their counterparts in the private sector but also have no quick means of redress.

Moreover, the budget’s allocation for health and education is commendable and sets a positive precedent. With Rs454 billion earmarked for education, including a significant boost for the Sindh Higher Education Commission, the government has protected the most important sectors from cuts. This 50% increase from the previous year’s budget is a far cry from the Federal allocations, which have been steadily declining over the years.

Similarly, the health sector also sees a substantial increase, with Rs300 billion allocated, up from Rs227.8 billion last year. The expansion of facilities like the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, National Institute of Child Health, and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases is much needed.

The opposition’s lack of resistance during the budget announcement session, led by MQM-P Leader Ali Khursheedi, reflects a rare moment of political consensus not found in the other two budget sessions.

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