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Opposition slams cut in education, health budget

June 21, 2019

LAHORE : The parliamentarians in Punjab Assembly from the opposition benches lambasted the PTI-led provincial government for reducing the education, health and social sector budget.

However, seriousness of the parliamentarians both from the opposition and treasury benches could be gauged with their thin attendance as by 7:20pm only 47 members were in the House with only a couple of ministers present. The Deputy Speaker who chaired the session objected to the photos being taken by treasury woman MPA Momina Waheed.

The finance minister also took a couple of breaks during the ongoing general discussion on Punjab budget on Thursday while the members were addressing the minister to highlight the drawbacks and missing links in the budget in his absence.

Opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz arrived in the House at 4:58pm almost half an hour late after the session started and then left for his chamber after some time. Only a couple of members remained focused on the budget-related issues. Former Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman’s speech was one of the key speeches in Thursday discussion who did caesarean section of the PTI budget by comparing it with PML-N’s last budget of 2017. Firstly, Mujtaba pointed out that the government did not provide all budget documents to the opposition so that they could not criticise and comment on it. Terming it snatching of right of information from the parliamentarians, Mujtaba said that Annual Development Program, Development Volume I and II, and Non-Development Volume I and II documents were not provided to the parliamentarians. He said the privileged motion should be made on it.

Mujtaba pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Supreme Court of Pakistan had barred them from any development projects payment during the last three months of 2018 due to which some payments were not made to the contractors while the outgoing PML-N government left Rs 120 billion in Account-I and PTI government paid the amount to the contractors from it. Further, he pointed out that the PML-N had given Rs 1970 billion with Rs 635 billion ADP budget in 2017 which was 38 per cent of total budget outlay, out of which Rs 488 billion ADP was utilised. The under-utilisation of the ADP was also due to the orders of the ECP and SC. Now the PTI government had presented Rs 2,300 billion budget with ADP size of 350 billion which was only 15 to 16 per cent of the total budget and it exposed its incompetence and priorities. On revenue side, he mentioned that the PTI had fixed Rs 375.9 billion provincial revenue collection in 2018-19 and collected only Rs 268.6 billion facing a shortfall of Rs 107.3 billion and now for 2019-20 it increased revenue collection target to Rs 388 billion.

Dr Mazhar, an MPA from Bahwalngar, asked for reviewing the budget for relief of public instead of adopting Hitler Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels propaganda model of making lies with public. The practice of Joseph Goebbels destroyed Germany and it still facing consequences of lies made to the public so would be the case with Pakistan if the PTI team led by Prime Minister Imran Khan would not stop telling lies and deceiving public with false promises, he commented.

Mehwish Sultan, a representative from Choa Saidan Shah, pointed out the decreased budget of health and education along with no allocations to a number of half completed schemes in the area.

Sardar Mahinder Pal Singh, a Sikh community parliamentarian from treasury benches, appreciated the PTI government for the steps taken for the community development.

Bilal Farooq Tarar, an MPA from Gujranwala division, also pointed out no allocation or minimal allocations of funds to a number of schemes approved by the PML-N government, including education, water and sanitation schemes of Rahwali and Ghaghar areas.

Rasees Nabeel, a PPP MPA from Sadiqabad, also mentioned that no funds and development scheme were announced for the district which was facing serious drinking water, roads and health infrastructure issues.

Fateha for Morsi in PA: Mowaya Azam Tariq, a member from treasury benches Thursday asked the house for offering Fathea for former President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi.

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