Federal govt should not consider Sindh as Islamabad’s colony: CM Murad Ali Shah

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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah said Wednesday the federal government should not consider the province as a colony of Islamabad, questioning why companies similar to the Sindh Infrastructure Development Co Ltd (SIDCL) were not set up in Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Addressing a press conference in the Sindh Assembly auditorium alongside Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, Advisor Murtaza Wahab, and Special Assistant to the Chief Minister Javed Nayab Leghari, Shah said the centre’s move to carry out development works through the federally-controlled SIDCL was unacceptable.

The CM said he was informed that the SIDCL had been set up by the centre through a revised document from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) — a day after he had found discrepancies in the original one. The company was formed to carry out development schemes of the federal government in Sindh.

Each of the other three provinces had been provided their respective funds to carry out the development work but for Sindh, a separate company was formed, Shah observed.

“This is quite surprising and a new thing for me,” he noted, adding that it was the first time he saw 22 schemes — 22 of which were for Sindh — being assigned to the Cabinet Division for implementation.

“The Cabinet Division of the federal government is not a development schemes executing agency,” he said.

Noting that he raised an objection during the National Economic Council’s (NEC) meeting earlier, he said he had informed Prime Minister Imran Khan that his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, had given Green Line project to Karachi but the federal government instead formed the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (KIDCL) to start the Rs24.6-billion Green Line bus transit system scheme.

The chief minister added that the federal government was misreporting figures of Sindh’s projects, noting that utilisation of Rs19.5 billion of the funds was shown in the documents shared this year as opposed to the Rs21.2 billion he had seen the prior year. This, he added, was another discrepancy.

Shah also said the federal government had initiated another vague new scheme called the “Improvement and Rehabilitation of Streets, Water, and Sewerage System” under the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) as part of the PSDP. However, he questioned as to how could such a project be taken by the centre when the provincial government had no knowledge of the work to be carried out.

He said the Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP) approved Rs1.1 billion for the project on March 13, 2020 but all of the funds were listed as utilised.

“I brought the scheme in the knowledge of the federal government and they advised me to go to the NAB [National Accountability Bureau],” he explained, adding that had it been done by the Sindh government, the anti-graft body would have taken notice much earlier.

“As a provincial government, we must know which schemes they [the federal government] are taking up so that the provincial government may not launch [them] in duplication,” Shah said, noting that PM Imran should have given Sindh mega projects such as lining of canals, dam projects, and water schemes in Thar but he instead “chose to construct surface drains in the streets”.

Referring to Rs217-million scheme in a constituency in Karachi’s East district, the chief minister underlined that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had “given a judgement that no MPA [member of the provincial assembly] could be given direct scheme”.

“Then how have they allocated Rs217 million for an MPA in District East,” he asked. “This is not the job of the prime minister to give small schemes of local bodies-level to his MPAs and execute them through the SIDCL.

“We had sent them seven water sector schemes but they didn’t consider them,” he added.

Shah highlighted how his mic had been muted during the NEC’s meeting. PM Imran denied issuing any such order when he took up the issue with him, saying instead that he gave an opportunity to each and every chief minister to express their views.

“This is what the staff of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat were doing,” he noted.

The CM also mentioned that none of the 24 new schemes included in the next PSDP belonged to Sindh. “Yes, in the power sector, they have given only one schemes for the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone,” Shah stated.

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