ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers from the treasury benches in the National Assembly have advised the state institutions to work within their limits – threatening that otherwise the house will legislate against interference of the judiciary in governance affairs.
“People need to remain in their limits. The judiciary should do its work; otherwise the parliament will have to take action. If an institution takes governance into its hands then the country gets stagnant.
“I ask the judges to do their own work otherwise we will legislate against it,” the Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan said on point of order on Friday. “It’s not your job to ensure whether people get water or not. Do your own work. Millions of cases are pending in courts,” he said.
Speaker Ayaz Sadiq advised Khan to keep in mind Article 68 of the Constitution which restricts holding discussion in the parliament with respect to conduct of any judge of the high court or Supreme Court. “Be aware of Article 68 regarding code of conduct of the judges,” the speaker said.
Khan said it is also stated in the code of conduct that the judges should not indulge in any controversy. “When they leave their own duties then controversies start,” he said. Khan said the parliament needs to review the situation as it is mother of all institutions but ironically there is no respect for its members.
On a point of order, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Barjees Tahir said there is an impression that the judiciary is needed to be reformed.
“Under the 18th Amendment, a parliamentary committee was supposed to appoint judges but under an order, this committee was defused. We are asked not to talk about the eligibility of judges,” he added.
Tahir said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was deprived to participate in the Senate elections due to a court ruling and the PML-N candidates were also deprived of their election symbol. “In this scenario, I ask how the parliament could be called supreme?” he said.
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The minister’s speech was underway when an MNA of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Shair Akbar Khan pointed out the quorum which led to a headcount and the session was prorogued for an indefinite period when the quorum was found incomplete.
Matter of waiving off loans
On directive of the speaker, the matter of waiving bank loans of defaulters was referred to the relevant standing committee. He also issued directives that the list of defaulters, whose loans were waived by the government, should be presented in the house in 15 days.
Responding to a calling attention notice in this regard, Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal has said the present government empowered banks to recover loans from the defaulters under a new law.
He clarified that the government does not waive the loans but such decision is left to the discretion of banks. “A list of loan defaulters has already been presented before the upper house,” he said.
Hike in petroleum prices
Lawmakers from opposition benches on Friday strongly criticised the government for the recent increase in prices of petroleum products and demanded immediate withdrawal of the decision.
Taking part in the discussion, Malik Amir Dogar demanded of the government to immediately withdraw the decision. Jamshed Dasti termed the decision ‘petroleum bomb’ thrown on people.
Condemning the hike, Sahibzada Tariqullah said the government wants to bring the prices of petroleum products to the level of 2013 for political reasons. “The hike in the price of kerosene oil will encourage use of wood in remote areas as fuel which will affect environment which is already in a danger zone.”
Naveed Qamar said the government did not adjust the sales tax levied on the petroleum products which it had promised. He said 30 per cent sales tax is being charged on diesel. He advised the government to avoid achieving the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) targets through hike in petroleum products.
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Nafisa Shah demanded an explanation from the government to bring the rate of petroleum products at the highest level in three years. Responding to the criticism, minister of state for finance said petroleum products’ prices are set on the advisory of regulator every month according to market fluctuation.
“The petrol price which was once Rs113 per litre dipped to Rs70 per litre and now it has been set at Rs88 per litre. In budget, the government had proposed inflation level at 6% but the house at that time was of the opinion that it would swell to eight to 10 per cent. However, the inflation level now is very much controlled as it is less than four per cent at the moment in the country,” he said.
He said in case of ignoring market forces with respect to oil prices, the government will have to award subsidy on petroleum products. “The government is already giving subsidy on a number of items including electricity, fertilizer and agriculture. If the government opts to give subsidy on petroleum products then it will not be able to complete its projects due to financial restraints,” he added.
The parliamentary secretary Javed Ikhlas said petroleum prices are not in the control of the government and it is the mandate of the regulatory body, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), to set the prices.
He said the regulatory body had suggested 31 per cent increase in the petroleum products and moved a summary in this connection to the PM. “However, the premier did not approve this summary. The government is giving Rs4.2 billion subsidy on diesel,” he added.
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