Senate opposition walks out over finance minister’s no-show

January 24,2019

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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar Wednesday laid the copy of Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment Bill), 2019 before the Senate amid opposition’s walk-out, as it insisted that Finance Minister Asad Umar, who was present in the Parliament House, must do the needful.

Leader of the House, Syed Shibli Faraz said that he had been informed about health issue of the finance minister and there was no violation of the Constitution or the law or rules if the minister of state placed the finance documents in the House instead of him, for the cabinet was collectively answerable to the House.

On a point of order, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani raised the matter and said it had been the tradition of the House that the finance minister himself had been laying the money bill and claimed the finance minister was present in the Parliament House, just across the wall after finishing his budget speech in the National Assembly.

“But he has not come to this House. May be he considers it a disgrace to himself to lay the money bill here. The business is part of the orders of the day as a supplementary item in his name and he is around, but he is not coming to the Senate. Kya onkay paon pay mehndi lagi lay (has he applied henna on his feet),” he asked while waving the orders of the day.

Rabbani, then referred to the relevant articles of the Constitution to claim that the finance minister was supposed to dispose of business himself. He, however, also referred to the relevant clauses, which allowed any other minister to do so, in case, the minister concerned was not around or unable to himself dispose of the business.

Rabbani pointed out that the finance minister was fine a few minutes back and made a budget speech and then decided to send the minister of state to lay the money bill in the Senate. To this, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani said it was not a technical issue and that it was a collective responsibility of the cabinet too.

“We should not set such traditions in the House which may be a problem in future and let the minister of state lay the bill,” he argued.

However, Rabbani insisted that it was a technical issue and his legal right of presenting the constitutional position on the matter could not be snatched from him. He added that the chair might allow the minister of state in the end. He again insisted that the minister was present in the building and he reserved the right to move a motion of breach of privilege of the House against him.

Praising the legal acumen of Raza Rabbani, Shibli Faraz contended that there would be no flagrant mistake or violation of the Constitution if the minister of state laid the documents in the House.


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