Bilawal chairs meeting to review ‘social protection strategy’ for next Sindh budget

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Saturday briefed the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, on the social protection strategy to design the next fiscal’s budget in a manner that the ruling party’s promises made to the voters were fulfilled, officials in the Sindh government said.

A meeting, presided over by Mr Bhutto-Zardari, was held at the CM House, where Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, ministers Azra Pechuho, Ismail Rahu, Imtiaz Shaikh and Saeed Ghani, adviser to the CM Murtaza Wahab, the chief secretary and several other government functionaries discussed a briefing titled ‘Peoples promises’ presented by coordinator to the CM Haris Gazdar.

Officials said the strategy would be finalised in a week or so before it was formally applied to the next fiscal’s budget expected to be unveiled in mid-June.

“All the promises made by our chairman [of PPP] during the election campaign will be fulfilled through our social protection strategy,” a government spokesperson quoted CM Shah as saying at the meeting.

“It is order of chairman sahib that the promises on which our party has got people’s votes [in last year’s elections] should be fulfilled in all circumstances,” said Mr Shah. “The people of Sindh are to be safeguarded by all ways and means.”

The strategy, as the officials generally shared with the media, included plans for poverty alleviation, good medical facilities, Benazir Kissan Card, Benazir Women Agriculture Workers Programme and internship guarantee programme.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP had always served the people; and through that strategy document that service had to be taken to the next level by improving it at grass-roots level.

“I want to make sure that every poor family should get meals thrice a day, shelter to live in and employment and means of livelihood,” said the PPP chairman.

LBOD scheme

Separately, Chief Minister Shah presided over a meeting at the CM House, where he said the completion of the LBOD (Left Bank Outfall Drain) scheme would provide water to Thar Coal Block-II.

He said it was an important scheme for further investment in the energy sector, asking the officials to go for appropriate technology for pre-treatment such as reverse osmosis or membrane bio-reactor (MBR) as soon as possible.

The meeting was held to discuss installation of pre-treatment for RO plants at Nabisar for Thar Coal Block-II. Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, special assistant to the CM on irrigation Ashfaq Memon, P&D chairperson Naheed Shah, secretaries for energy, finance and irrigation and other officials attended.

The chief minister was told that the scheme for pre-treatment at Nabisar for Thar Coal Block-II was approved by the government at Rs3.25 billion. The scheme was prepared to feed 60 cusecs of raw water to RO plants. The design of pre-treatment was based on an ultra filtration basis.

The work later was stopped on the scheme and on a request of power companies, a revised scheme of Rs14.3bn was prepared based on the MBR technology and it was designed for the inflow of 75 cusecs.

The planning and development department raised serious objections against the rise in the cost from Rs3.25bn to Rs14.325bn and the matter was referred to the provincial cabinet. On the recommendation of the cabinet committee, Nespak was hired as a third-party consultant for recommendation of technology and financial review.

Now, the power companies have requested that due to urgency for operation of power units updated ultra filtration technology for discharge of 75 cusecs raw water should be approved to save the time required by the consultant, the meeting was told.

The chief minister asked the energy minister to call a joint meeting of power companies, SECM and Nespak to discuss the urgency of selection of the technology.

“We should resolve this matter so that operation of power plants being installed there can be started,” he said.

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