KARACHI: All the opposition parties in the city council boycotted the Tuesday session, which was summoned to approve the 10-month budget of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), in protest against the ruling Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for not giving them ample time to debate its financial details.
“We got the agenda of the day just two hours before the house was called to order and the chair did not allow us time to discuss the budget threadbare,” said Karamullah Waqasi, leader of the opposition in the city council, after the boycott.
The house was initially presided over by Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, who allowed the budget for 10 months [September 2016 to June 2017] to be presented in the house for approval. The chair, however, suspended the proceedings for five minutes and left to attend a more important unscheduled meeting.
The latter proceedings were conducted with Deputy Mayor Dr Arshad Vohra in the chair. Mr Waqasi and other leaders of the opposition parties said the mayor should have formally informed the council before taking leave.
The chair said the budget had been officially presented by the KMC administrator before the mayor’s swearing in to office in June 2016. However, it was a legal requirement that the council should approve the budget. “It is not a new document,” said Dr Vohra. He explained that it had already been “passed by the Sindh government and it is being presented before the house with minor amendments for approval. The next budget will be prepared and presented by us and it will be fully debated, as it had been in the past.”
Mr Waqasi said the Rs22 million surplus budget, which had Rs23.848 billion earnings and Rs23.826bn expenditure, should have been shared with every member of the 300-plus-strong council a week or two prior to the session.
“It shows the bad intentions on the part of those who are ruling the KMC,” he said.
Several other opposition members echoed the sentiments of the opposition leader belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party who later joined hands and boycotted the session.
However, half-a-dozen lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, mostly from Lyari, opted not to join the fellow opposition members.
The members gathered at the portico of the imposing British-era KMC building and chanted slogans against the ruling party.
Meanwhile, the city council gave approval to the KMC budget.
Besides, the council approved 10 different resolutions which were presented in the house.
One of the resolutions asked the Sindh government to devolve to the KMC all those departments which had been devolved earlier in accordance with Article 140-A of the Constitution; and also hand over other departments to the KMC, including the building control authority, KWSB and solid waste management board, which had previously been with the municipal authority.
The council further demanded that financial resources be distributed justifiably and according to parameters like population of Karachi and its problems.
Threat to mayor’s life
The council approved another resolution demanding that in view of serious threats to the life of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar he should be provided with foolproof security with increased law-enforcement staff.
It recommended provision of a special security squad to enable the mayor to serve the city to his full potential. Through another resolution, the house demanded that the government sanction honoraria for the mayor, deputy mayor, DMC chairmen, vice chairmen and members of the city, district and union councils. Rs100,000 was recommended for the mayor, Rs75,000 for his deputy, Rs60,000 for a DMC chairman, Rs45,000 for a vice chairman, Rs40,000 for a city council member, Rs30,000 for a DMC council member and Rs15,000 for a union committee member.
The council also requested the Sindh government to provide offices to the chairmen of union councils in the city. It said a number of such offices were razed on the grounds that they had been built illegally on parks and government lands. It said 40pc of union committees were without offices, which negatively affected their functioning. The house also approved a resolution to name the newly constructed underpass near Golimar after renowned artist Sadequain (Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi).
It was approved through another resolution that the municipal commissioner be given this authority by making amendment in the municipal law to recommend the participation of any council member, mayor or deputy mayor in the council meeting in police escort from jail in case they were behind bars.
The council also offered fateha for late governor Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui.