Poor governance, lack of reforms compromise resource richness of Sindh: Experts

Sindh, one of the most resource rich province in the country, is in a quandary due to its inability to translate abundance into socio-economic empowerment of its inhabitants.
Economists as well as politicians, talking to APP, attributed the scenario to three pronged challenges encompassing mismanagement, misallocation of funds and misappropriation of available resources, steadily threatening deliverance of development in its totality.
According to available statistics agriculture sector of the province contributes 23% to the GDP, 62% of the country’s locally drilled 20.3 million barrels of oil is shared by Sindh, while of 81,8 MCF of gas produced in the country 48% comes from Sindh which also contributes 31% of the 316 million tones of coal. It is also home to sizable number of large scale manufacturing (LSM) industries (around 345) besides having 25% of all small scale manufacturing (SSM) units scattered across the country. The province also handles major portion of country’s international trade while its contribution to service sector is also enormous.
Senior political economist and head of department at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), Prof. Shahida Wizarat emphasised the need to assess the situation on macro level.
“It is lack of discipline, absence of accountability and a rampant feudal mindset that we repeatedly witness decisions made on personal whim and in absolute disregard to national or provincial interest,” said the researcher. “The ultimate sufferer are the masses as we witness that benefits of these riches rarely transform into tools to empower people,” added the expert.
To a query, she said the province urgently needed economic reforms with major focus on fiscal restructuring, public sector development (with major focus on irrigation, water and sanitation as well as mineral development. Syed Sardar Ahmed, an economist and former senior minister of the province (holding the portfolio of finance), identified fragile regulatory framework, poor infrastructure in rural areas and disparity in distribution of funds between rural and urban sectors as its major developmental challenges. “Is this not ironical that tremendous resources are allocated for rural areas yet we see little improvement in the lives of people living in the rural areas of the province,” lamented the senior politician who also headed opposition benches in the provincial assembly for quite some time. “Why is it that Sindh a major producer of wheat in the country continues to lack adequate storage facilities for the major crop,” he questioned.
Reminding that the issue is quite close to food security concerns of the countrymen, Ahmed said Sindh estimated to produce four million tones of wheat annually can procure only 1.3 million, that too after hiring rented premises. It is also home to sizable number of large scale manufacturing (LSM) industries (around 345) besides having 25% of all small scale manufacturing (SSM) units scattered across the country. The province also handles major portion of country’s international trade while its contribution to service sector is also enormous. “Due to absence of essential facilities only a limited quantity is procured from farmers at support price while the rest is hoarded or sold in the market at lower prices leaving the growers ultimate sufferers,” he said. Ahmad also referred to constant threat faced by agriculture sector of Sindh due to diminishing fresh water bodies and contamination of most of its canals, lake and other relevant resources.—APP

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