ISLAMABAD .: In a heated exchange of words and walkout of opposition during the Senate session, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has demanded formation of a parliamentary committee to ascertain the use of trillions of rupees funds by the previous governments.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, he lambasted the opposition for the misuse of funds. He said Rs42 trillion funds had been given to Balochistan in the last decade and asked the house about the use of these funds in the province.
He accused the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief, Mahmood Khan Achakzai of robbing the country and making anti-state remarks. In response, Senator Usman Kakar also fired a broadside at the information minister, accusing him of ‘supporting former military dictator, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’.
Fawad said poor people were living without the basic necessities and 2.5 million children were out of school. He added that the injustice with the people amounted to economic terrorism.
He said the government was left with no option but to seek financial aid from abroad to control the $18 billion balance of payments deficit.
On the demand of the information minister Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani agreed to talk to the leader of the house and opposition in the Senate and the National Assembly speaker for the formation of a parliamentary committee over the misuse of funds.
In efforts to maintain the decorum of the House, Sanjrani had intervened more than once and asked Fawad to refrain from using ‘unparliamentary’ language. He told Fawad that running the house is the government’s responsibility…it needed to exercise greater tolerance towards opposition.
On this, Fawad responded that decorum of the House was important but he would talk about corruption and fake bank accounts. He said the opposition would always talk about deprivation of resources in their constituencies rather than to justify the use of allocated funds.
He also suggested that the government and the opposition should render an apology to the house since proceedings of the house was a shared responsibility.
Referring to Senator Mushahidullah Khan’s statements against the prime minister and the government in the last session, the information minister said the senator or the leader of the Opposition, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq should render an apology.
During the proceedings, Senator Sherry Rehman raised the issue of the reported killing of SP Tahir Khan Dawar and the recovery of his body.
After Senator Sherry Rehman raised the issue of the reported killing and recovery of body of SP Tahir Khan Dawar, the minister stated that it was a serious incident and reports were still trickling in.
Fawad responded that if the Opposition knew the details then it should join the investigation into the incident.
On the occasion, Leader of the Opposition Raja Zafarul Haq said the issue was important and the incident happened outside Pakistan and reportedly the body was at Jalalabad Consulate in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Privatisation, Muhammad Mian Soomro informed the Senate that the Privatisation Commission had fetched Rs172.9 billion by successfully privatizing five entities in the last five years.
Answering the question of Senator Mohsin Aziz, he said the divestment of 19.8 per cent equity of United Bank Limited (UBL) worth Rs38.2 billion were disposed of in June 2014.
The buyers included international and domestic institutional investors and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) through domestic stock exchanges.
Similarly, the 70.05 million shares of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) worth Rs15.3 billion were sold to domestic institutional investors and HNWIs in June 2014 through domestic stock exchange.
Similarly, the commission had earned Rs14.4 billion in December 2014 by privatising 131,275,073 shares of Allied Bank Limited (ABL) to domestic institutional investors and high net worth individuals (HNWIs) through domestic stock exchanges.
The minister said the commission fetched Rs102.4 billion in April 2015 by divestment of 41.5 per cent equity of Habib Bank Limited to international and domestic institutional investors, multilateral development banks/institutions (MDBIs) and HNWI through domestic stock exchanges.
The 88 per cent government shares of National Power Construction Corporation (NPCC) had fetched Rs2.5 billion. The 1,760,000 GOP shares were sold to Mansoor Al Mosaid Company in September 2015.
On the occasion, State Minister for Finance and Revenue Hammad Azhar said the value of the rupee had depreciated by 7.7 per cent against the US Dollar during the tenure of the current government.
He said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had the mandate to independently manage the currency and the dollar is appreciated or depreciated as per demand and supply situation.
Meanwhile, reports were presented in the Senate by standing committees.
Senator Sherry Rehman on behalf of the Chairman of Standing Committee on Aviation, Senator Mushahidullah Khan presented report of the committee regarding change of software in PIA leading to problems in bookings.
Chairman Standing Committee on Petroleum, Senator Mohsin Aziz presented the report regarding low gas pressure in Charsada district.
Senator Mohsin Aziz also presented report of the committee regarding sending of four gas bills in one month to the consumers in Rawalpindi.
The senator also presented report of the committee regarding accidental compensation to coal mine workers in Balochistan.
(WITHA ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)