Punjab Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution condemning the death of renowned Qawwal singer Amjad Sabri in Karachi at the hands of gunmen and demanding the Sindh government and law enforcing agencies to use all resources to capture the assailants.
The resolution expressed grief at his loss and the deaths of countless other victims of terrorist attacks and stated that the fight against terrorism would continue until it had been completely eradicated. PML-N MPA Waheed Gul offered Fateha for the departed singer and other victims of terrorism. The resolution drafted by both the opposition and treasury benches was presented in the House by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was also in attendance along with the entire cabinet for the resolution’s introduction and vote.
The House took up cut motions and demands regarding the Annual Budget 2016-17 after finishing the general post-budget discussion on the previous day. PPP MPA Sardar Shahabuddin on behalf other members moved a cut motion to reduce the amount allocated for agriculture to one rupee. The PPP MPA in his speech complained that 34 percent of the agriculture budget of the previous fiscal year had lapsed and that there was no need for more expenditure since agricultural output in the province was almost non-existent. PTI MPA Raheela Anwer added that the subsidies being provided were not giving direct relief to the public and PTI MPA Arif Abbasi jokingly stated that all funds allotted for agriculture should be spent on the highly coveted Orange Line Metro Train project. Their counterpart PML-Q MPA Sardar Vickas Hassan Mokal claimed that private companies given the responsibility of distributing smart phones to farmers under the Kissan package would charge them for it. PTI MPA Ahmed Shah Khagga and PML-Q MPA Amir Sultan Cheema also complained that the Kissan package was insufficient.
Minister for Agriculture Dr Farukh Javed admitted that while the sector needed improvement the government had undertaken numerous initiatives for the welfare of farmers including five billion rupees of loans with all interest paid by the government for farmers under Kissan package. Javed stated that climate change was presenting serious problems in the sector and the department had collaborated with World Bank to end scarcity of irrigation water. Five billion rupees have also been allocated in the budget for the seed sector and energy subsidy was being given to farmers to increase their output. The cut motion was rejected by the House and the demand for a sum of 7,868, 789,000 rupees in respect of Agriculture was approved.
PTI MPA Mian Aslam Iqbal on behalf of opposition members moved a cut motion to reduce the development budget to one rupee. Iqbal complained that funds of all departments were being re-appropriated for construction of Orange Line Metro Train project and there was no accountability for the expenditure. The MPA quoted the Auditor General Punjab’s report for 2014-15 which stated that corruption and undue financial benefit to contractors for Hockey Stadium Sheikhupura and Danish schools in the province, along with unauthorised payments and non-recovery of funds from Traffic Engineering Planning Association (TEPA) for construction of a new alternate circular road to Azadi Chowk. His colleague PTI MPA Arif Abbasi jokingly said the Orange Line Train was the solution to all problems, meanwhile PPP MPA Faiza Ahmed Malik complained that no funds for development funds of female parliamentarians and opposition MPAs were being released. PTI MPA Shaoib Siddiqi speaking on the motion said Mian Mi Hospital had no facilities for treatment of patients and katchi abadis in his constituency were coming under attack due to the train. The cut motion was however rejected and the demand of 388, 498, 093,000 rupees in respect of development was approved.
Leader of Opposition PTI MPA Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed moved a cut motion to downsise the budget for health to one rupee. Rasheed criticised the chief minister for holding on to the portfolio of health in spite of the worsening state of health in the province and demanding that he appoint a health minister to oversee the department. PPP MPA Faiza Malik lamented the kidney and liver institute was still not operational even after 10 billion rupees had been allocated in the previous budgets and PTI MPA Shunila Ruth expressed her disappointment over the lack of surgical equipment in public hospitals. Voting however on the cut motion and demand was however ruled pending as more members wished to speak on the matter. The house was adjourned for Friday (today).