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October 19, 2018

Opposition in KP Assembly terms budget cruel, in deficit


October 19, 2018


PESHAWAR: Opposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Thursday rejected the Rs100 billion budget as cruel and deficit and demanded formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Billion Tree Tsunami and hydropower projects.

Initiating the debate on the budget 2018-19 in the assembly, opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani said finance minister had no vision and planning as the budget he presented did not provide any relief to the people, but rather it would increase their miseries.

He said that instead of the minister’s claim of Rs30 billion surplus budget, it was actually a Rs60 billion deficit budget. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led previous government had claimed presenting a surplus budget but later it faced a deficit of Rs57 billion, he added.

He said that last year the KP government was blaming the centre for the shortfall in releases though the federal government had paid Rs8 billion extra than its share in taxes revenue.

He said the PTI government’s announcement of getting a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) caused a devaluation of rupee against dollar and the dollar surged by Rs14.

The PTI government showed its previous set-up development projects as achievements but billions of rupees embezzlement was done in BRT, Billion Tree Tsunami and hydropower projects in the province, which should be investigated through a third party audit while a parliamentary committee comprising leaders of all parties be constituted and they should be given a briefing in presence of the chief minister.

The BRT cost was increased by Rs18.66 billion, which shows the PTI leadership vision, which launched the project before presenting it in the Economic Coordination Council, he stated.

He also questioned the increase in the budget for hydro projects and said that due to the government’s wrong policies, the prices of daily use commodities were increased, putting an extra burden on the masses.

He said the funds were not allocated for the Chashma Right Bank Canal project despite being on the PSDP and a project of vital importance for the province.

Sher Azam Wazir, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), also termed the budget as jugglery of words and said it was deficit wherein no relief was given to the public.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s Inayatullah Khan said the government was claiming of presenting a Rs30 billion surplus budget but it included foreign aid of Rs71 billion.

In the last budget, 50 percent of the foreign aid was not received and this year, too, the situation would not be different, which means the budget would be of Rs100 billion deficit after an increase in the dollar rate.

He said the claimant of “New Pakistan” had allocated more funds for roads as compared to education and health. The finance minister’s vision could be judged from allocating Rs19 billion for roads and Rs14 billion for education, he said, adding that there was discrimination in ADP as the only Rs10 million has been allocated for the Rs1 billion schemes of opposition members. He also raised question over the previous government’s Ehtesab Commission, Right to Information and Right to Services laws.

Khushdil Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) said that the finance minister, instead of providing any relief to the masses in the budget, focused on criticising the previous ANP government. He said Finance Minister Taimur Jhagra had spent more time overseas, that was why he was not aware of the ANP sacrifices and achievements which had established nine universities, 34 colleges, launched Bacha Khan Khud Rozgar Scheme, Rescue 1122, earning a name for the province, and NFC award besides resettlement of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Malakand division and affectees of the 2010 floods in the province.

Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) questioned the distribution of funds among different districts and said the PTI government burdened the poor with taxes instead of any relief.

“Where is New Pakistan?” he posed a question, saying that billions of rupees corruption was done in BRT, Billion Tree Tsunami and other projects, Ehtesab commission was closed down, no improvement was seen in health, education and other sectors.

Minority member Ranjeet Singh also complained of indifference towards minorities in the budget and said no funds were allocated for uplift projects except allocations for repair of churches and temples and some scholarships.

However, PTI’s Shaukat Yusufzai blamed the past governments for the economic crisis and said the situation would improve within six months. He said implementation of on the government’s 100-day plan was going on and people would observe the change someday.

He said that 5 million homes would be constructed and BRT structure would be completed by December and service would be launched in March.

He said they were ready for an audit of the Billion Tree Tsunami and hydro projects. He said that 800,000 more families would be provided Insaf Health Cards and 8,000 schools and 187 BHUs would be provided solar systems, besides interest-free loans to youth.