Monday July 15, 2024

NA budget debate: Govt under fire over failed economic policies

By Our Correspondent
June 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The female parliamentarians from the opposition parties while taking part in budget debate on Monday unleashed strong criticism on the government for failure of its economic policies and also called into question credibility of ruling party and its leadership.

Former Finance Minister of the last PPP tenure Hina Rabbani Khar, PML-N government’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Dr. Nafeesa Shah from PPP during their speeches reminded the PTI leadership of tall claims before assuming powers while accusing the government of making mockery of justice in the name of accountability. “A retired Brigadier Asad Munir had to commit suicide to clear his name from NAB’s case,” Hina Rabbani said.

The House also witnessed two female parliamentarians Dr. Nafeesa Shah and Marriyum Aurangzeb protesting against Deputy Speaker’s ruling to ban use of word ‘selected’ for the Prime Minister.

Nafeesa said that there should be freedom of speech in the House saying that if the ‘selected’ is unparliamentary word then words calling someone as dacoits and thieves is more unparliamentary language. “Then you will have to impose ban on use of many other words,” she said.

Ms. Aurengzeb during her speech while criticising Imran Khan again called him as ‘selected’ one but the Chair reminded her that the ruling had been made that the word should not be used as all members are elected representatives.

Hina Rabbani Khar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan used to say while standing on container that seeking foreign loans amounted to jeopardizing national sovereignty but the same party’s leadership congratulated the nation over getting loans from the friendly countries.

She said Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to turn the Prime Minister House into a university but kept no allocations in the budget for the project and instead the government now wants the opposition to accept Rs1.1 billion grant for the premier.

She said the Prime Minister is doling out Rs150 million each to his favourite parliamentarians in the name of developments while ignoring members even those elected from far-flung areas like Dera Ghazi Khan.

Commenting on constitution of an Inquiry Commission on Loans, Hina Rabbani who also held portfolio of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said it would be waste of time of the state and the Commission itself.

She recalled that the raw oil’s price during the PPP regime touched the level of 140 per barrel but per liter price of petrol never crossed from Rs115 and the then government made every possible effort to provide relief to the masses.

Marriyum Aurengzeb said the leader who used to sell dreams while standing on the container, now had become driver of ‘Uber’ cab who wanted that he should be given five stars on every drive.

The PML-N leader who spared no chance in criticising the PTI government, questioned how the investors would trust in government’s policies when the Prime Minister would threaten the nation of actions of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “He does so to hide his government’s incompetency,” she said.

Ridiculing the fund-raising campaign initiated on directives of the former Chief Justice, she said more amount was spent on advertisement than the actual funds collected from it. She pointed out that the Prime Minister also promised of given 10 million jobs but instead employment was given to people from Bani Gala club and the IMF.

She said the person who used to dishonor the Parliament was not Leader of this House and real leader (Nawaz Sharif) was imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail saying her leader would never bow to the minus one formula. “Nawaz Sharif was put in jail only to bring Imran Khan into power,” she said.

The PPP parliamentarian Dr. Nafeesa Shah thanked the Speaker for issuing production orders of Asif Ali Zardari and Khawaja Saad Rafique which she said would raise prestige of the House. At the same time, she observed that people of Waziristan were still deprived of their representation in the National Assembly as production orders of two elected members were yet to be issued.

The PPP member termed speech of the Prime Minister as ‘Midnight Knock’ when he used threatening language. “Sending reference against judges and suppressing media are also not less than midnight knock,” she said.

She said the Prime Minister was following double standards as on one hand, he gives threats of NAB and on the other, he talks about amnesty scheme. Terming the amnesty scheme as a failure, she said as per media reports around 250 people have taken benefit from it. Further talking about double standards and so-called accountability, Dr. Nafeesa Shah said many other sugar mills were raided to check collection of tax whereas mills of a leader who is considered as Prime Minister’s ATM were spared.

Participating in the debate, Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Khan Afridi said the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan will succeed in transforming this country and earn a respectable place in the comity of nations. He said nobody is above the law and the corrupt elements will face accountability at all costs.

Amir Haider Khan Hoti said salaries of government employees should be increased by 25 percent instead of 5 or 10 percent. He said tax imposed on tobacco growers in the new budget should be withdrawn. He said the tax should rather be increased on tobacco companies and the smokers.

Responding to points of ANP leader, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said it has been decided to withdraw the tax imposed on the tobacco growers. He said the burden of the tax has now been shifted to the end user.

Muhammad Alamgir Khan of PTI highlighted the problems faced by Karachi and said sufficient funds should be allocated for development of the metropolitan.

Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal said the present government is giving special importance to the development of Balochistan province. She said it is first time that fourteen percent of the total federal budget has been allocated for Balochistan. She said it is also the first time that the government is reaching out to the poorest of the poor.

Hussain Elahi said previous PML-N government was responsible for the current economic situation of the country. He said the previous government also did not pay any attention to bring improvement in the education and health sectors. He appreciated the incumbent government for focusing on the human development.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the government has not allocated any amount to address the issue of malnutrition in the country.

Syed Faizul Hassan said the budget for next fiscal year is a balanced one. He said difficult decisions have been taken keeping in view the current economic situation. He said the government should give relief by reducing the prices of petroleum products.

Shazia Marri of the PPP said honorarium equivalent to five months basic pay announced by the previous government for the staff of different organisations including Radio Pakistan, PTV and the APP should be given to the employees deployed for the coverage of budget session. She was also critical of the government for not increasing the salaries of scale 21 and 22 employees and reducing the minimum taxable income threshold.

PTI MNA Fauzia Behram said the government is giving importance to broaden the tax net. She said that we have also given greater autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Javed Latif said the country cannot move forward without upholding the rule of law. He said the present government has increased the burden of debt on the country.

Khurram Shahzad said the government should fully facilitate the exporters. He appreciated the government providing power and gas to the export oriented industry at subsidized rates. He said the Federal Excise Duty imposed on small cars should be withdrawn.

Maulana Muhammad Anwar said Pakistan cannot make progress and achieve peace and stability unless a true Islamic system is introduced in the country.

Ali Nawaz Awan said the PML-N and the PPP governments destroyed the national economy. He said they are also responsible for the deficits of the power sector as well as state enterprises including Pakistan Railways and Steel Mills.

Aminul Haq of the MQM voiced concerns about problems of the salaried class and demanded tax exemption for income up to Rs100000 per month. The MQM also suggested the government to withdraw new taxes proposed on sugar, edible oil and ghee to provide relief to the masses.