KARACHI: There are two mayors working in Karachi, while the chief minister is missing, said Opposition Leader in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan.
In his budget speech on Wednesday, Hasan alleged that massive fraud has occurred in mega schemes initiated by the Sindh government in Karachi. “Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar is struggling and running from pillar to post to get powers while the chief minister is performing duties of the mayor. This means there are two mayors in Karachi while the coveted post of chief minister is lying vacant,” he said, criticising the provincial government for not giving powers to local bodies’ representatives.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government was not willing to hold the local government elections but Supreme Court forced them to do it. But after the election the powers have not been given to the local representatives,” said Hasan, adding that after the 18th Amendment, the federal government has given autonomy to all provinces by enhancing their resources but the Sindh government is unwilling to delegate powers to the districts.
“We demanded the apex court take suo moto notice of the issue and play its role to empower local bodies’ representatives,” he said.
The opposition leader referred to the misappropriation of funds in the Karachi package and said, “There are massive discrepancies in the budget papers”. He said the CM’s speech and budget books contradict each other. In the budget books Rs1.2 billion has been allocated for University Road from Hassan Square to NED University but in his speech, the chief minister said the budget for the project was Rs770 million, Hasan accused.
Rejecting the budget, he said that no relief has been given to the poor and 92 direct or indirect taxes have been imposed on the people.
He said the competency of the government can be gauged by the fact that in the first three quarters of the financial year, more than 80% of the development budget was not utilised. “How can a government use the entire budgetary allocation in the last quarter? It’s not feasible,” he said.
The opposition leader said the government created 49,000 jobs in the budget but important departments have been neglected. “The word is giving more attention to information and technology, but our government has not [created] a single vacancy in this sector,” he criticised. “10,000 jobs vacancies are mentioned in the budget books, but I don’t know how these jobs will be filled,” he said.
Quoting the finance department documents, Hasan said 29 old schemes of Rs17 billion are being repeated in the local government department’s schemes list for the past few years but have shown no progress. Giving details of grants awarded, he questioned why Rs8 million has been given to PPP MNA Ayaz Soomro. “A journalist, employee of a judge and bureaucrats are among others who have been given grants by the chief minister. I fail to understand why a PPP MNA has been given a grant,” Hasan commented.
Earlier, Parliamentary Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro ruled out the possibility of a new province in Sindh and said, “Those who talk about bifurcating Sindh live in a fool’s paradise”. He added that the PPP-led government has broken all records of development in Sindh. “When I was planning and development minister in 1996 the total development portfolio of Sindh was Rs15 billion, which has now been enhanced to Rs344 billion,” he said.
Khuhro said the government has given incentives to poor and elderly women through the Benazir Income Support Programme. He lauded the PPP government, which according to him has always fought Sindh’s case on a federal level.
Former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro also spoke on the occasion. Later, the speaker adjourned the session till today (Thursday).