As the government is poised to present the budget in both the Senate and National Assembly on Friday, the top slot of the recently constituted Senate standing Committee on Finance remains vacant.
But Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari has summoned a finance committee meeting to elect the new chairperson today.
Parliamentarians maintain a failure to present the budget to the standing committee for scrutiny would be a grave violation of the constitution.
The Senate standing committee on finance – particularly since the passage of the 18th Amendment – is supposed to scrutinise the budget and change its recommendations as well if need be. The committee, after approving the proposed budget, sends its recommendations to the National Assembly.
Two key government allies – the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are at loggerheads with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership over the election of the committee chairperson, officials told The Express Tribune.
“As the second largest party supporting the PPP in the Senate, we have the right to hold the top slot of the finance committee,” claimed ANP Senator Haji Adil.
Meanwhile, MQM Senator Nasreen Jalil commented that the PPP top leadership in the Senate assured them that the committee’s chair will go to them. Jalil added that she is ready to contest the slot herself.
PPP Senator Islamuddin Sheikh said the matter should be resolved with consensus today (Friday).
“It’s a key slot. It will go to a competent lawmaker… no matter which party he or she belongs to,” he added.
Standing committee members have already been nominated, said Senate Special Secretary Amjad Pervez Malik. These are Senators Saeed Ghani and Islamuddin Sheikh representing PPP, Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain representing Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q), Senator Kulsoom Parveen representing Balochistan National Party (Awami) (BNP-A), Senator Nasreen Jalil representing MQM, Senator Haji Adil representing ANP, Senator Ishaq Dar representing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Senator Talha Mehmood representing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Senator Sardar Fatteh Muhammad from Balochistan, Senator Osmanullah from Islamabad and independent Senator Humayun Khan Mandokhail.
Senate Secretary Iftikharullah Babar and Senate Special Secretary Amjad Pervez Malik will look into the election process in the parliament.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Malik said the senate panel has the authority to scrutinise the budget in its special post-budget meeting. He added the review could continue for 14 days after the proposed budget’s announcement.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.