CITY BUDGET: PROVINCIAL-LOCAL COMMANDS CONFLICT
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
June 16 - 22, 2008
While the draft budget for fiscal year 2008-09 of city district government Karachi displaying an increase of Rs. 2 billion in comparison to fiscal 2007-08, the intervention of provincial government spurring the observable slowdown in the ongoing projects nurtured by the city administration creates a factual dubiety over the realization of CDGK's fast moving developmental programmes aimed at to transform the city into a progressing industrial hub.
The draft budget, expected to be formally presented in the last week of June as an offspring of federal and provincial budgets and usually bearing slight changes in the final copy, has revealed projected receipts of Rs. 47.66 billion from levies on education and health, fees for permits and licenses, and penalty charges, too comprising Rs. 9 billion government's grants, of that Rs. 47.55 billion is set as a target for expenses from high to low on works and services, education, health, annual development programmes, municipal services, and community development during the next fiscal. This budget ends up with a Rs. 110 million surplus.
In view of the introductory note, practical balance between revenue and expenditures would only be evidenced at the end of next fiscal and obviously be glanced at during it. For financial closing of the just elapsed 2007-08, however, the balance had been maintained till the oath taking of the new government. It was after that breakups in provincial fund releases and jurisdictional conflicts rose to put metropolitan developments right away on a slow track.
Surplus account has an overriding impact over the budget making, therefore, it is a tactic in fad to disclose the surplus budget, Mehmood Baig, District Officer (Budget) CDGK replied when asked about the surety points that invite anticipate revenue collection in excess of expenditures in next fiscal.
"I am not sure of next fiscal year, but for 2007-08, city council's budget deficit would easily be adjusted with the final perusal of May and June receipts," he told. At closing months, collectors certainly catch speed in order to attain the revenue collection targets.
City administration in its budget FY08 earmarked Rs. 45.47 billion as total expenditures and planned to generate Rs. 45.69 billion revenue with a surplus of Rs. 216 million.
The FY09 budget was prepared in an absolute conformity with the previous administrative setup. As per the city Nazim's instruction, we have finalized the budget for FY09 of the city, said he, saying, maybe slight changes in the budget document would take effect following federal and provincial budgets. But, in his view, the city's budget a closest replica of last budget ought to adapt to revision of outlays on the account of non-development expenditures that include salaries, perks, privileges of government staff, their allowances, allocations for ministerial and secretariat facilitation services, etc.
Compounded with the slowing of provincial fund proceeds to city administration in closing months of previous government's farewell financial year, this intervention has meddled in the institutional jurisdictions as well, which, in accordance with the intact law are conferred to district Nazim. Disturbing among it was the reshuffling in Karachi Water and Sewerage Board executive authority. Sindh government retrieving the provisions of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board Act 1996 claims its executive power over the affairs of water and sewerage board while city government does so under the SLGO 2001, which allows assertion of power by the city government on civic bodies. In this legal altercation started since after the general election, Sindh government has gone a step further and secured its ascendancy by replacing the head of KW&SB.
Awhile the subsequent effect has not gained the falling gravity for the ongoing water and sanitation projects, yet in months to come this [vindictive] interference may prove fatal for all the development works.
For over significant numbers of years, especially water and sanitation systems around the metropolis have not been paid attention properly due to the apathy of government and provincial centralization, in few towns this neglect is of beyond centuries. One such neglected area was Lyari town, which has been a hotbed of springing votes yet its issues of basic amenities were not resolved by the very politicians reached in the assemblies because of town's mandate.
Without question the city district administration has rooted out the several perennial water and sanitation problems of numerous localities. Provision of drinkable water across the city and construction of efficient drainage network were the two-pronged problems that were the biggest obstacles in the way of developments. Therefore, these two impediments were taken into the task at the very begging, almost two years back. And, objectively appraising, these problems have been subsided in a shortest time period because of the metropolitan centralization i.e. confining authority and responsibility to a single city administrative institution; devolution of power.
In fiscal 2007-08, receipts to city government from KW&SB were close to Rs. 10 billion. The estimated cost for sanitation works was Rs. 17 billion that, under one authority, must be offloaded to cumulative fiscal year expenditures or at least not affected the progress of works. After getting hold of also monetary management of KW&SB, Sindh government may tend to hold control over revenue and expenditure affairs of the department. This would need a careful coordination between provincial and city developer.
It is commonly observed that complex structure of administration taking diversified institutes on board to administer city affairs also often causes inter-institutional conflicts that directly result into hampering of progress. The slow moving of development projects testifies this.
Iftikhar Sheikh, Senior Vice President, KCCI said under the steadfast leadership of CDGK, city administration staff changed the outlook of the Karachi. He associated rapid developments with the unity in control of managing civic resources.
In the upcoming budget of the city government, additional outlays to strengthen further the infrastructure around the industrial estates should be allocated, he advised, adding public-private partnership in this regard is welcomed by the business community if government gives impermeable financial security to private partners. He said urban roads interlinked to industrial areas need to be expanded. Construction of bypasses is necessary to timely delivery of industrial inputs without interruption at the locations of productions. He concluded administration control of local government is beneficial for the metropolitan industrial progress and national economic growth.