Pre-budget speech turns into showdown

Instead of making suggestions, opposition and treasury blame each other for govt project failures

Rana Yasif March 12, 2019

LAHORE: The treasury and the opposition were busy pointing fingers at each other over the failure of government projects rather than suggesting ways to make the upcoming budget more viable.

The house reverberated with the slogans of opposition lawmakers who were annoyed over the pre-budget speech being concluded by the Punjab government on the same day. The legislators termed this development a sheer violation of the PA’s traditions, claiming lawmakers from both sides were given opportunities to give their suggestions. The opposition MPAs said it was astonishing that the speech was concluded, depriving other lawmakers of their right to speak.

Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht assured the house that underdeveloped areas of the province would be focused on. He added the budget would be based on regional equalisation.

“It was not possible to allocate the desired amount on development projects in 2018 due to the wrong polices of the previous government. This time, PTI’s will focus on underdeveloped areas and everyone will see institutions moving towards progress,” the minister said. He also slammed the PML-N government and further challenged its members to explain the financial model of the Orange Line Metro Train.

He said the PML-N controlled the dollar through artificial means and ruined every one of the institutions, such as the railways, PIA, Pakistan Steal Mills and others.

Opposition leader Mian Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, lauding PML-N projects, said the initiatives were pro-people. “The PTI government does not want to take them towards its completion.” He said the previous government completed three metro train Projects for Rs100 billion, while the current regime spent more than Rs100 billion on a single project.

“The PTI government has ruined health, education, and other institutions.”

He also appealed to politicians to stop politicising the health issues of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Responding to Hamza’s speech, Speaker Chaudhary Pervez Elahi shed light over his government’s achievements.

He blamed the PML-N government for putting an end to PML-Q’s projects after taking power. Elahi said it was PML-N that preferred not to take projects of others towards completion.

Opposition lawmakers strongly protested against the conclusion of the pre-budget speech session on the same day. Senior PML-N lawmaker Muhammad Waris Shad expressed his gloom over the conduct of the PTI government.

The opposition started chanting slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan, while the treasury took a dig at the PML-N leadership, including Nawaz Sharif.

Later, the opposition beat their desks over the impartial role of the Speaker Elahi when he snubbed Minister for School Education Dr. Murad Raas, who stood to respond to adjournment motions over the absence of the secretary of his department.

Raas tried to convince the speaker, but Elahi said he would not tolerate such conduct. The minister said his department’s secretary was attending a meeting of the local government. The speaker found it astonishing that the minister for local bodies was present in the house while a secretary was attending the meeting.

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