Sindh is using most of the increase budget for debt repayment

KARACHI: Despite an adequate development budget, government spending in Sindh has been declining for a few years, while it remained at its lowest in 2018/19, resulting in a lack of employment opportunities, according to a report issued by the Auditor General of Pakistan.

Besides, economic activities are also hampered in the province leading to increased poverty, which does not bode well, he added.

The report for the financial year 2019/20 showed that the debt owed by the Sindh government has ballooned and the provincial government is using the development budget to pay off the debt incurred in the past few years.

Sindh Government’s net revenue showed a growth of 9% in the financial year 2018/19, compared to the financial year 2017/18. Spending has also remained low, dropping 8% over the same period, due to a massive reduction in the development budget.

Similarly, the government of Sindh cut the development budget for the financial year 2018/19 by 61% from Rs 282 billion to Rs 173 billion. Of this amount, only 39% (Rs 109 billion) of the improvement budget has been utilized.

The government spent 92% of the total budget on physical assets, 49% on civil works and 42% on renovation and maintenance works, while 262% was spent on debt repayment and 49% on service. the debt.

In the financial year 2018/19, a total of Rs 47.286 billion was spent on debt repayment, while Rs 5.733 billion was spent on debt servicing.

In fiscal year 2016/17, development expenses accounted for 23.54% of the total amount, 24.41% in fiscal year 2017/18 and only 12.61% in fiscal year 2018 /19.

The decline in the development budget can also be attributed to the reduction in federal grants, which are provided for development projects, according to the report.

During the audit of the 2018/19 financial year, irregularities amounting to Rs 298 billion were identified. These included Rs 3.270 billion in employee expenditure, Rs 47.902 billion in purchases, Rs 5.664 billion in account management by commercial banks, Rs 964 million related to service delivery and Rs 1.19 trillion rupees of irregularities in various other departments and fraud. and corruption cases worth over 37 million rupees.

According to the report, no record of the amount worth Rs 1.14 trillion was provided for the audit.

Irregularities in Sindh government spending are mainly attributed to non-enforcement of Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Sapra) rules, non-collection of fixed rate of government tax, non-compliance – compliance with rules and regulations concerning human resources and the lack of access to files for the audit.

The report questions the economic performance of the Sindh government and can be used by those who oppose granting greater autonomy to the provinces to support their narrative.

The report also dispelled the impression created by the Sindh government of an increase in the development budget and the claim that its financial management is better than that of other provinces.

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