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May 18, 2018

Lack of quorum in NA blocks budget approval

National

May 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Lack of quorum in the National Assembly on Thursday torpedoed the PML-N-led government’s efforts to get the Federal Budget 2018-19 approved by the House.

As Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq started clause by clause reading of the Finance Bill, 2018 moved by the Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, to give legal effect to the budgetary proposals, the PPP MNA Shagufta Jumani pointed out lack of quorum. The chair ordered a count and adjourned proceedings till Friday morning after the House was found short of the required strength.

At the outset, the House offered Fateha for the Military Intelligence (MI) officer Colonel Sohail Abid who was martyred in an operation against terrorists in Balochistan on Wednesday, and the Palestinian protesters who were martyred by the Israeli forces in Gaza.

Paying rich tribute to the martyrs of security forces, the Speaker said the armed forces had given unprecedented sacrifices for their motherland which would always be remembered. Soon after Fateha, PTI leader Shireen Mazari pointed lack of quorum. On counting, the House was not found in order, as almost all the PML-N members were busy attending parliamentary party meeting chaired by the PML-N President Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.

The chair temporarily suspended the proceedings to get the required strengthened of members in the House. The suspension continued for around about two hours. The House passed all the 151 demands for grants pertaining to different ministries and departments for the next fiscal year.

The House also passed 23 demands for grants related to the Human Rights Division, Industries and Production, Department of Investment Promotion and Supplies, Inter Provincial Coordination, Kashmir Affairs, Law and Justice Division, Narcotics Control, Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Postal Services Division, Pakistan Post Office, Privatization Division, Pakistan Railways, Fata, Statistics Division and Water Resources Division.

No cut motion was moved by the opposition parties on these demands for grants. Speaking on the finance bill, PPP parliamentarian Naveed Qamar strongly opposed the amnesty scheme recently announced by the government.

He also criticised the government for increasing the burden of indirect taxes on the common man. Earlier, responding to the points of the opposition members on the Finance Bill, 2018, Miftah Ismail said budget deficit will remain 4.9 percent during the next fiscal year.

He said steps had also been taken to reduce trade deficit adding that exports and remittances were witnessing an upsurge while the export package had also contributed towards increasing the country’s exports. He once again clarified that petroleum development levy had not been increased.

He said the government had substantially reduced income tax adding that tax payers in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the provinces will also be brought in the active tax payer’s list. He said Sales Tax on all fertilizers had been reduced to two percent from 17 percent.

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