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June 27, 2019

NA approves government’s all 92 demands for grants

Top Story

June 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday got all 92 demands for grants approved from the National Assembly (NA) relating to different ministries, divisions and departments for the next fiscal year while all the cut motions moved by the members from the opposition were rejected, showing signs of easy approval of the federal budget.

NA Speaker Asad Qaisar directed for voting on a demand for grant when the PPP member Syed Khursheed Shah challenged its passage with the majority voice. The government managed approval of the demand for grant with 160 to 126 votes of the opposition. In later part of the proceedings, none of opposition members asked for voting on any demand for grant or cut motion.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also attended proceedings of the House for half an hour. The treasury benches also welcomed arrival of Sardar Akhtar Mengal of Balochistan National Party (Mengal), who declined to attend opposition parties’ All Parties Conference (APC) a day before.

The 66 demands which were passed were related to Climate Change, Commerce Division, Communications Division, Postal Services, Defense Division, Ministry of Federal Government Educational and Professional Training, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Housing and Works Division, Federal Lodges, Human Rights Division, Industries and Production Division, Information Technology and Telecommunication Division, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, Maritime Affairs Division, National Assembly, National Health Services, Overseas and Human Resource Development Division, Planning and Reform Division, Privatization Division, Pakistan Railways, State and Frontier Regions Division, Ministry of Climate and Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and others.

No cut motions were moved by the opposition on these demands for grants. The House also approved another 23 demands for grants for the next financial year relating to various departments, including Cabinet, Establishment, Aviation and Capital Administration divisions, Prime Minister Office, National Security Division, Federal Public Service Commission, Meteorology Department, and Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division.

The House rejected over 300 cut motions moved by opposition members against these demands. Winding up discussion on cut motions, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan rejected an impression about raise in allocations for the Prime Minister House saying instead 32 percent decrease in the expenditure of Prime Minister House has been made as expenses came down from Rs986 million to Rs675 million since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has come to power.

The Minister went on to say that PTI government now has allocated Rs660 million for the Prime Minister House which include both internal expenses on the House and expenses on the public office. “This allocation is less than Rs670 million for the Prime Minister House in 2014-2015, the minimum budget for a year in five-year tenure of the PML-N Government,” he said.

The Minister said the PML-N Government allocated Rs700 million in 2013-2014 and Rs810 million for the year 2015-2016 and the same was raised in next two years.

Regarding poverty alleviation, he said Rs192 billion has been allocated to uplift the downtrodden. He said prime minister’s inspection commission has filed six inquiries in just one year against five inquiries during the entire term of PML-N government of the past.

He said funds allocation for National Disaster Management Authority is being increased to help people during calamities. In their speeches on cut motions, the opposition members criticised performance of the Cabinet Division, Establishment Division and other departments. They opposed allocation of budget for Cabinet Division as it has failed to deliver.

They were of the view that Prime Minister’s office is being run by non-elected people. They said that the prime minister has lost his credibility by telling fudged figures to the people about PM Office’s expenditure.

They said that about four million people have gone below the poverty line due to mismanagement of economic matters. The parliamentarians demanded provinces’ share under National Finance Commission award should be ensured and focus should be made on improvement of the performance of Pakistan International Airlines.

They said no sector has been given relief in the budget. Members belonging to PPP demanded that New Islamabad International Airport after Benazir Bhutto. Shazia Marri demanded five honorariums for officials of Radio Pakistan, PTV, APP, PID, who covered the budget session. She also demanded the same for the staff of the Capital Development Authority and other departments, who performed duty during the budget session.

It may be pointed out that the Minister of State for Revenue at end of his wind up speech on Tuesday announced three basic salaries as honorariums for staff of the National Assembly and Senate who performed duties during the budget session.

Those who took part in the debate include Barjees Tahir, Abdul Qadir Patel, Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Hina Rabbani Khar, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Zahid Akram Durrani, Shagufta Jumani, Saad Waseem, Shahid Akhtar Ali, Tahira Aurangzeb, and Shazia Marri.

The National Assembly also held discussion on the Charged Expenditure included in Demands for Grants and Appropriations for the next financial year. Charged expenditures totaling over Rs 43.47 trillion relate to different departments and services including Civil Works, Pakistan Railways, National Assembly, the Senate and domestic and foreign debt servicing.

Speaking on the charged expenditures, the members said that the government should reduce the policy rate. They pointed out that a major amount of the budget is going in debt servicing and the government should chalk out a strategy to put the country on path of self-reliance.

They called for revisiting the debt and economic strategy of the government. The members said loss making state entities like PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills should be privatized. They said that services of Pakistan Railways should be improved for the convenience of the passengers

Khawaja Muhammad Asif of PLML-N said, “God forbids, the country is becoming economically vulnerable which would also jeopardized its defence and security.” Expressing concerns over continuous devaluation of Pak currency, he said that free fall of rupee in not stoppable and getting out control. “The country will be mire in great problems if downfall of currency going on and interest rate increases to 19 to 20 percent,” he said.

The PML-N said that current economic figurers are very alarming which could not be defended or denied and would see economic murder of people in the days to come. He said he had already stated that before signing a Charter of Democracy, it was necessary to reach consensus on the federal budget. “The Parliament should not take burden of passing this anti-people budget” he said.

Former minister Hina Rabbani Khar also criticised the government’s performance in the economic sector saying that the GDP growth rate was going down whereas inflation was on the rise.

She said that every government face problems of debt servicing and seeking loans but the incumbent Government had criminalized the matter by constituting a Commission of Inquiry on Loans.

Hina Rabbani Khar questioned as to what is logic in allowing non-filers to purchase properties worth over Rs five million while a common man will have to show his Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) for shopping of Rs50,000

Syed Hussain Tariq said as to why heavy expenditures have been kept for the Foreign Office and what was their performance. Meanwhile, the PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at outset of proceedings on Wednesday repeated demand for issuance of production orders of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, the two parliamentarians from Waziristan. He said the House was not complete as production orders of two parliamentarians were not issue.

On that Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri said the Speaker had sought legal opinion on the issue adding that he would take his own decision in this connection. However, the PPP leader said they have also written to the House committee on Human Rights and also regretted who was being consulted for issuance of production orders. He said PPP members were attending the budget session under protest.

Almost every PPP parliamentarian who spoke later on demands for grants and cut motions, repeated demand for issuance of production of two parliamentarians from Waziristan particularly at a time when voting on demands for grants had started.

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