KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Tuesday that the provincial government was facing shortage of funds from federal transfers which had impacted the province’s development projects.

Addressing a post budget press conference at the Sindh Assembly auditorium along with Adviser on Information Murtaza Wahab and senior officials, the chief minister said that it was unique for him to address the conference twice a year and it happened after they decided to authenticate only three months budget.

Speaking on shortage of funds from federal transfers, he said that in 2017-18, the initial estimates of the transfers were Rs627 billion which was revised to Rs598 billion but still they received Rs49 billion less from revised amount by June 2018.

“Even after the revised estimates, we were hoping to carry forward an amount of Rs55 billion for 2018-19 but now it has gone down to only Rs8.2 billion, forcing the incumbent cabinet to make a cut of Rs24 billion in the uplift budget of new schemes,” he said while promising to divulge all financial details in order to bring true picture of the provincial treasure.

He further said that even the federal transfers received in July-August this year was below the previous year in the same period and had further brought them in a position where they could not promise hypothetical development plans.

“It was due to this that we have decided to launch only 24 schemes of which most of them are from donor agencies and organisations on sharing and some of them recommended by water commission formed by apex court,” he said and adding that their emphasis would now to complete over 900 ongoing schemes in the province by fiscal-year end.

He further said that they had diverted an amount of Rs5 billion to district ADP for improving work at grass root level. “Other than improving missing facilities of 14 out of 17 district and tehsil headquarters by the fiscal year end, we will also be completing 31 out of 41 trauma centres projects by December 2018,” the chief minister announced.

He further said that the poverty reduction programme with the assistance of European organisation would now be expanded to districts of the province covering rural areas.

Speaking of much-hyped austerity measures, the chief minister said that he had imposed ban on purchasing new luxury vehicles in this year and if needed it could be purchased next year. “I have also directed to sell 10-year-old luxury vehicles,” he said and added that however, it was almost impossible to find clients of luxury armored vehicles due to high prices and the same was witnessed during the auction of luxury vehicles at the prime minister house. “I normally travel in my personal armored vehicles and want to sell them if the federal authorities would have a purchaser for it,” he said in a sarcastic tone.

Divulging details of his meeting with the Prime Minister Imran Khan in Karachi during his one day-visit, Murad said that they discussed the issues of transfer of provincial officials, devolution of health facilities under 18th amendment, timely transfer of federal transfers and funding for K-IV.

“The prime minister has assured that the provincial officials will not be transferred to federation without the consent of the provincial government, as required by the law,” he said and added that it was due to without consent transfers that they were unable to appoint officials at top posts including chairman anti-corruption and senior member board of revenue.

Murad said he had also asked for support from federal government in a case pertaining to devolution of JPMC and NICVD and also requested that in case the institutions are transferred to the federal authorities, then the free treatment and other facilities provided by the Sindh government should be continued.

Speaking on delay in Green Line Bus project in Karachi, he said that the issue came under discussion with the prime minister and the latter had hinted that the federal authorities could also procure the buses needed for the project after completion of infrastructure. “There is no delay from our side,” the chief minister rejected the notion.

Responding to prime minister’s announcement to give citizenship to Bengalis and Afghanis, the chief minister said that illegal immigrants could not be given citizenship and the citizenship process could only be carried out under the ambit of constitution and law.

“The PM should come out of Jalsa mode and act like running a government,” he said and added that he was not informed of any two-month warning from prime minister to lift garbage from Karachi and said that even if the governor was asked to do so then it was out of his constitutional responsibilities to do so.

Responding to construction of Bhasha Dam initiative, Murad said that the project was approved by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and it does not have any additional irrigational canals contrary to Kalbagh Dam.  “We are on tail therefore before providing water to the tail-end, the dams should not be filled,” he said and added that even in Tarbela and Mangla, the dams are filled even when the Sindh and Balochistan were facing water shortages.

Speaking on education sector, the chief minister admitted that they were unable to yield fruitful results from it but said that in this budget they had identified 4,650 schools having 80 percent enrolment and work for provision of missing facilities in them.

“By the fiscal end, we will be able to provide all facilities to 2,200 schools and the completion of entire project will witness a rise in enrolment by 550,000 students,” he said.

The chief minister also announced that ban on recruitments is lifted and they had begun recruitments in some departments. Large scale recruitments will also begin soon, he added.