The Leader of the Opposition and PTI MPA Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed on Thursday opened general discussion on the Annual Budget 2016-17 with a two-hour long speech blasting the government for ignoring major public welfare concerns by inefficient planning and unnecessary expenditure on personal purposes.
Beginning the general discussion in Punjab Assembly on Thursday, the Opposition leader termed the 2016-17 budget as an enemy of public interest and entirely devised by bureaucrats with parliamentary standing committees and members of the House completely disenfranchised. He said the deficit of the Punjab government stood at Rs114 billion and the government had introduced a staggering 185 billion worth taxes which would completely crush the working class. He claimed that the PML-N government was unable to achieve the targets set for this fiscal year in the previous budget and was hurting the province’s farmers by imposing a new export duty.
The Opposition leader vehemently criticised the new budget for allocating Rs423.8 million for expenses, including provision of security related to CM House with Rs8.4 million being reserved for the purchase of generators. Similarly, he blasted the government for allocating Rs120 million for the security of Governor House which means 3.5 lakh every day. He continued with his tirade by expressing his disappointment over the Rs97 billion spent on transport department which was more than Rs53 billion amount allocated in the previous budget. He urged upon the government to also decentralise the health department which was currently under the care of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif by appointing a separate minister to look over the worsening condition of public hospitals in the province.
The Opposition leader stated on Thursday that law and order was deteriorating in Punjab with incidents of crime increasing and perpetrators fleeing crime scenes. He questioned the success of Safe City project and urged Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to take his job seriously. Mehmood-ur-Rasheed lamented that the process for electing vice-chairman, chairmen and mayors had yet to be completed despite funds being allocated for local government in this budget. He blasted the government’s agriculture policy by demanding that the subsidy system be restored, a kissan credit card scheme be launched with the cooperation of commercial banks, and all taxes on agriculture inputs, including fertilisers and seeds be eliminated.
In his two-hour long speech, the Leader of the Opposition also stated that it was a shame that millions of school-age children were out of schools with the government ignoring Article 25 (A) of the Constitution that guarantees free education to children from the ages of 5 to 15 years. Countless schools in the province were without basic facilities, including furniture and clean drinking water with students studying in the scorching heat, he concluded. The session was adjourned for today (Friday).