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National

April 17, 2018

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Govt, opposition at odds over next year budget

Govt, opposition at odds over next year budget

ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition are at odds over presenting budget for upcoming fiscal year 2018-19 as the government is all set to present the budget for the whole fiscal year on April 27 but the opposition wants that the present government should present the budget for the four months only for day-to-day business of the caretaker government and leave the matter for the next government after the elections.

Though the government approached the opposition for seeking their cooperation in this regard, the opposition sticks to its position that the government should only present the budget for the quarter of the fiscal year.

The opposition also viewed that April 27 is the wrong time for the budget as the process of ministries completing their inputs will not be over till first week of May. After getting no positive response from the opposition, the government sought the help from National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to convince the opposition for smooth sailing of the budget session.

Despite NA Speaker’s efforts, the matter has not been resolved as the opposition sticks to its stance. After the government refusal to set a tune of four-month budget, provincial government of Sindh also announced tentative date of May 5 for the provincial budget for the next fiscal year yet it was not clear whether Sindh government will present the budget for the whole fiscal year or for four months.

“If the federal government presents the budget for the whole fiscal year, the provincial governments will also present their budgets for the whole year as they have no other option,” one of senior parliamentarians commented.

When contacted, Opposition Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said why the government was hell bent on presenting a budget for the whole next fiscal year as it was unlikely to implement the same. She said Sindh would present the budget in May, since the federal government refused to set the tone for a four-month budget. “April 27 is the wrong time as the process of ministries completing their inputs will not be over till first week of May,” she said.

She said that the government had done zero consultations with any other parties and the entire process of parliamentary inputs had been ignored and set aside. The government has summoned the budget session of the National Assembly on April 27.

The opposition has also decided to hold the meeting of opposition parties within next two days on this issue to formulate its joint stance. At the moment the PPP and PTI are on same page that the government should not present the budget for the whole fiscal year.

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah will hold the meeting with the heads of the opposition parties to hold the joint meeting to decide on taking the joint stance. The opposition parties’ meeting will also deliberate on the names for the caretaker setup to hold the upcoming general elections.

Though the PTI has finalised the names of ex-commerce minister Abdul Razak Dawood, ex-government State Bank of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain and ex-Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice (R) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, the other opposition parties including the PPP have not finalised their nominees for the caretaker prime minister.

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