Back-benchers in the Punjab Assembly held take centre stage in the session on Friday. The party rankers criticised each other’s leaderships.
The session also brought the budget debate to a close unless the speaker chooses to extend it on Monday when stand-in finance minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman is expected to wind it up.
Sajida Mir, the Pakistan People’s Party, opened the debate by criticising rising prices in the province.
“If the federal government can reduce petroleum prices to give people relief, why can’t the provincial government act to reduce prices?” she asked.
Mir’s comrade-in-arms, Riffat Sultana Dar sang a parody of a popular song for the chief minister to which the members responded with laughter.
Tanvir Nasir, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA, criticised the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leadership.
“The PML-Q head Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is using the State Guest House in Lahore to conduct business and political deals,” he said.
He said that fertiliser stocks had gone missing from the market in the sowing season after a senior minister had issued sale permits to his cronies.
He also said that Kalabagh Dam should be built to help ease the energy crisis.
Nazim Ali Shah, a PPP veteran from Multan, refused to speak on the budget in front of, what he called, was a “daily-wage finance minister.”
Haji Imran Zafar, a PML-N MPA, said that that Pervaiz Elahi was the root of most corruption in the country. The remarks were met by protest against Zafar by the PML-Q’s ladies’ brigade.
Zubia Rubab Malik, a PML-Q MPA, said that the government had shown no vision.
“The government has failed to produce a plan to produce electricity for the province despite the 18th amendment allowing it to set up its own energy projects,” she said.
Rahila Khadim Hussain, a PML-N MPA, criticised the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) claiming that it was riddled with embezzlements. She said that the BISP should be audited.
Attendance remained low on Friday and if the lack of interest exhibited by members continues on Monday, the government may have a hard time maintaining quorum for the debate on finance bill.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.