KARACHI: Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah while presenting the Sindh Budget 2016-17 at the Sindh Assembly Saturday informed the House that the total budget of the province of Sindh for the fiscal year 2016-17 is proposed at Rs. 869.1 billion.
The Annual Development Program of Government of Sindh for the coming financial year would be Rs 225 billion; an increase of a massive 39 percent over the current year’s ADP. This is a great achievement by all standards.
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 our development portfolio, as we would ensure that the current budget of the province shall not increase by more than 13 percent.
This is despite the fact that the salary and pension expenditure has to increase in order to provide relief to Government employees and also to create new jobs. Moreover, the 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 shall increase substantially.
He informed the house that 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.
Sindh 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.
While referring to the status of National Finance Commission (NFC), he said it was the constitutional 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 was to end on June 30, 2015.
He called for the earliest completion of NFC, which was the constitutional obligation to the Federal Government.
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.
Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali said that 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 had done exceptionally well in achieving the challenging target of Rs 61 billion; this has been possible due to commendable efforts of its staff but most of the credit would go to the outstanding leadership provided by its chairman Tashfeen Niaz.
The Excise and Taxation department also succeeded in achieving the target assigned to it.
Considering this excellent performance, Sindh Government had set more challenging targets for these two entities in next financial year. Our overall tax collection is estimated at Rs 154 billion for fiscal year 2016-17, which is 24% higher than the current year’s target.
There are 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.
The SRB was being assigned a task to collect Rs.78 billion which will be 28% higher than the current years’ collection. An ambitious but achievable goal.
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 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.
The additional revenues the government had generated were available to finance a very healthy ADP of Rs 225 billion that we have budgeted for the next fiscal year.
It was the result of our better fiscal management during last three years that we can aim for such a high growth in our development portfolio.
The Provincial Finance Minister said the government had managed to keep a check on unproductive government expenditure. Austerity measures were introduced into our financial management. A whole set of PFM reforms aiming at more transparency and accountability were introduced. There has been a ban on procurement of new vehicles except for the operational vehicles for Police and hospitals etc.
Procurement of other luxury items like air conditioners etc. had also been kept under control. These measures have saved us the resources to spend on the Government of Sindh, Budget Speech 2016-17.
Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2016
Courtesy : BRecorder