By: Zeeshan Azmat
Karachi For the upcoming financial year, it seems the Sindh government has taken the much-needed step of not ignoring smaller departments that are capable of bringing about lasting change in the society.
Finance minister Murad Ali Shah in his budget speech for fiscal year 2016-17 in the Sindh Assembly pointed out that several smaller departments that were usually overlooked while allocating funds were also considered this time while earmarking funds for development.
According to him, the social welfare, special education, sports and youth affairs, women development and minorities’ affairs departments would now see significant increase in their budgets as compared to previous years.
He announced that the budget for social welfare department in 2016-17 was being increased by 65.5 percent, with the additional amount meant for improvement of government shelter houses for women and children. He said the overall budget for special education department had been increased by 35 percent, with a 433 percent surge in its non-salary budget to spend on improving 50 education centres across the province.
Moreover, the funds allocated for sports and youth affairs department was also increased by 46 percent to provide better avenues while the budget for women development department was increased by 149 percent, most of which would be spent on providing microfinance facilities and legal aid services to women.
The minister also announced that grant for minorities was being increased from Rs100 million to Rs300 million — a surge of 200 percent — that are meant to be spent on various welfare schemes.
Besides, grant-in-aid has also been increased from Rs5 million to Rs22million. In another wise decision, Rs200 million have been allocated for the Sindh Child Protection Authority with an additional Rs84.75 million to buy vehicles for the department.
Another Rs34 million have been reserved as dietary charges for inmates of 18 rehabilitation centres of juvenile delinquents, increasing expenditure from Rs30 per day per inmate to Rs300 per day per inmate.
A sum of Rs250 million has also been earmarked for year-wise maintenance and repair of 10 rehabilitation centres, Dar-ul-Amans and Dar-ul-Atfals.
The budget for the upcoming financial year also reflects Sindh government’s resolve to take a few initiatives for the legal, social and political empowerment of women, said the finance minister.
In lieu of this, the current revenue expenditure of women development department has been increased from Rs92 million in 2015-16 to Rs229.1 million in 2016-17, a substantial increase of 149 percent in the allocated budget, he said.
He told the House that a day care centre in Karachi and a complaint centre for women across the province had been completed and were awaiting operation.
Furthermore, he said, a substantial amount of funds had also been allocated for establishing and managing day care centre and women complaint cells and the latter’s offices had also been devolved to the divisional level with a plan to delegate them to the districts concerned.
Moreover, he said, Rs135 million had also been allocate for providing legal aid to poor women and child prisoners.
According to the minister, the budget also included funds for the establishment of women development complexes in Sukkur and Karachi.
The senior minister claimed that the Sindh government was committed to safeguard the rights of minorities as enshrined in Article 25 and hence, had increased the budget concerned by 134 percent, from Rs158.3 million in 2015-16 to Rs370.3 million in 2016-17.
Additionally, he said, allocation for grant-in-aid funds for the uplift of social and economic conditions of the minorities in Sindh had been increased by 200 percent — from Rs100 million in the outgoing financial year to Rs300 million in the upcoming financial year.
The ADP allocation for FY 2016-17 is pitched at Rs604 million, an increase of 6.5 percent over this financial year’s amount of Rs567 million.
The Sindh government also plans to pass the Sindh Evacuee Property and Displaced Persons Act, and The Sindh Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act, the minister said.
Sports and youth affairs
The current revenue expenditure of sports and youth affairs department has been increased by 46 percent to Rs832.9 million in 2016-17, against an allocation of Rs570.4 million in the outgoing financial year.
The finance minister announced that ADPs pertaining to sports and youth affairs in the next financial year were projected to cost around Rs2 billion, an increase of 100 percent over the ADP budget worth Rs1 billion in 2015-16. With this funding, said the minister, the provincial government would construct of sports stadiums in eight cities, organise traditional sports activities, build a cricket stadium in Mahrab Pur, a sports complex in Sukkur, besides repairing other facilities.
The minister said allocation for sports activities had been increased by 900 percent, from Rs20 million to Rs200 million while allocation for the Sindh Sports Board had been increased by 100 percent from Rs20 million to Rs40 million.
Moreover, he said, for the promotion of sports activities the budget had been increased from Rs20 million to Rs50 million.