Plan to revitalise Sindh`s
Tahir Ali Khan
June 06, 2011: SINDH hopes to revitalise its economy by
making huge allocations for investment in griculture in the
next budget to build on farm sector gains.
Development of road network will also get a priority to
improve intra-provincial mobility of goods and people for a
better integrated, efficient provincial economy.
Housing sector will also claim special attention not only to
bridge shelter supply gap but to generate political capital
in urban Sindh for the ruling party.
The size of the upcoming budget 2011-12 is projected at
Rs435 billion that is about 13 per cent higher than this
year’s revised budget of 2010-11 at Rs384 billion.
Initially, the size of the Sindh budget was Rs422 billion.
The development outlay for the concluding fiscal year was
slashed by Rs38 billion to Rs77 billion from original Rs115
billion. In the upcoming budget, the size of development
budget has again been set at about last year’s level of
Rs115 billion, sources in the provincial government told
Some provincial ministers and senior officials contacted for
comments spoke with optimism. However, their claims of
better economic performance of Sindh over the next fiscal
did not sound convincing as their projections were
punctuated with too many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.
“We are doing all that could be done at our end, like
establishing new industrial estates and improving facilities
at current ones so that opportunity does not pass us by. We
are all set to welcome investors if and when they arrive”,
Rauf Siddiqui, provincial minister of industries informed
this scribe over telephone.
Sindh missed many development targets set for the last
budget but it did manage to contain losses incurred by the
devastating floods and averted a greater human tragedy by
managing and rehabilitating flood affected people fairly
well in close coordination with development partners and
“Many projects, particularly in the Right Bank Outfall Area,
had to be shelved because of flash floods. Besides, the cut
in development budget, aimed at diverting the resources to
respond to the natural disaster, from original Rs115 billion
to Rs77 billion compromised the capacity of the provincial
government to finance all projects and schemes planned for
the year”, a key officer of the finance department
“At best, we can tend the ground and wait for the nature to
smile”, a provincial minister said, referring to sluggish
investment rate in the province. He attributed depressed
investment to law and order and power deficit, etc.
“It is true that the people’s expectations have not been met
fully but the wellbeing of a commoner in the rural Sindh did
improve over the past year despite floods. The money that
flowed in because of decent commodity prices and direct
transfers made to people affected by floods, and poor
recipients of monthly Benazir Income Support Fund did create
some sense of inclusion among the people, neglected for so
long by the past governments,” Adeel Soomro, a retired
serviceman said over phone from Khairpur.
“The rural sector did well last year on the back of high
commodity international prices but I do not see any
guarantee for the trend to deepen over the year ahead as
prices are showing some signs of weakening and could lose
altitude any day. In absence of investment in agro-based
industries it might be difficult to sustain the demand
momentum for farm produce. The growth in industry and
service sector is already low and it worries me what will
happen if the graph of rural economy also flattens?” a
provincial minister said referring to growing urban unrest
because of rising cost of living and declining avenues of
Another minister from Karachi expressed fears over the
continuing politics of patronisation in Sindh leading to
misallocation of resources that retarded growth process.
“Yes, there is great potential for a fast pace growth in the
province but the tendency to politicise all issues has
raised virtually insurmountable barriers on the development
path. The current status quo needs to be dismantled for
sustainable development. If you ask me, the strategy is not
an issue, the weakness is in the ‘will’ of the government”,
said another stakeholder.
A senior bureaucrat said, the government intends to make an
attempt in the budget to improve housing scenario in the
province for addressing the needs of people. “The government
attaches great value to the construction industry that
generates activity in several aligned industries and
services. Besides, an elected government cannot afford to
ignore the widening housing deficit indefinitely, specially
as elections draw nearer,” a well placed source in the
finance department informed this scribe, elaborating on the
draft budget proposals circulating in the inner circles of
The social sector, particularly health and education, will
receive more allocations but the provincial economic team
has decided to concentrate on improving the quality of these
vital services, instead of spreading allocated resources
thin to achieve quantity.
Sources maintained that the forthcoming budget would make
operational the comprehensive schools in selected districts
and union councils over the very first quarter of the next
fiscal. The situation of public sector schools is pitiable.
According to reports, out of 47,000 government schools less
than 10,000 are functional. Over 37000 of them are
inoperative for one reason or the other.
Several attempts were made to solicit comments of the
provincial finance minister Murad Ali Shah and the Advisor
to the Chief Minister on Economy Qaisar Bengali but their
preoccupation probably did not allow them to articulate and
share their views over the past performance and future
economic prospects of the province. —Afshan Subohi
Courtesy: The DAWN