karachi - The Sindh Finance Minister Shakaib Qureshi has said that priorities of the Finance Department are to improve provincial revenue receipts from its own resources, leveraging the strength of government land holdings for project financing; and to create a more ‘enabling’ regulatory environment.

He stated this while chairing a meeting at Finance Department, Government of Sindh with attendance of representatives of different commercial banks on Thursday. The idea behind the meeting was to discuss various proposals and ideas for fiscal improvements, raising fuel of Government of Sindh infrastructure projects, participation of private sector with particular reference to the forthcoming budget issue discussed including regularly frame works that need to be proposed to the next democratic Government to trigger development with private sector involvement.  It was agreed that initiatives undertaken under the public-private partnership mode for infrastructure development are the need of the hour and the way of the future. This shall serve the two-pronged objective of resource mobilisation and infrastructure developments however, it was decided that ways and means to procurement private sector interest will be proposed.

Members of the audience including at least three Presidents of different commercial banks were in agreement that resource mobilisation for infrastructure development may well be done if such projects were structured in an appropriate way and sufficient economic incentive was built into these projects for the investors and lenders. The cases pointed out were the successful completion of the Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas Dual Carriageway road project and the Jhirk-Mullahkatiyar Bridge Project, both of which have been developed through active participation of commercial banks.

Moreover the Sindh Nooriabad Power Project, which shall have a total power generation capacity of 100 MW was also discussed, which is under the process of achieving financial close through participation of commercial banks and the revenues of which have been secured by the Government of Sindh by establishing a ‘collection account’ where the billing of the Government of Sindh due towards the HESCO and SEPCO shall be off-set against the dues of the Wapda payable to the project, to secure it from the circular debt. This and several such other initiatives are under consideration to attract investment into the province.

The meeting stressed the need for wide-spread reforms in the collection of provincial taxes like the Motor Vehicle Tax where the tax deposit mechanism is cumbersome and the property taxes, which suffer from gross under-declaration of property values.

It was decided that the respective banks would submit their proposals to the finance department, Government of Sindh; and where practicable, these shall be incorporated in the upcoming provincial budget.