Given the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has so far infected over 10,027 people in the province and caused 473 associated deaths, the provincial government is mulling different options on presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21.
The provincial government has devised a plan to summon a session of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly on June 17 to present and pass the provincial budget.
A source at the K-P Assembly Secretariat told The Express Tribune that at the moment, two options are being considered.
The first option involves providing equal representation to all political parties in the session while guests can attend it through video link.
The second option, which has been under consideration for some time now, is to summon a virtual session, with the 140 lawmakers of the province participating through video link.
The assembly secretariat is mulling trying both options to weigh their pros and cons, particularly to ensure that Covid-19 guidelines are followed.
The source added that the provincial government is trying to take all parliamentary leaders into confidence regarding the session. Should they disagree, K-P Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani will then summon a session of the parliament while ensuring standard operating procedures (SOPs) for physical distancing are observed.
Ghani, meanwhile, has said that they are ready to provide equal opportunities to all parliamentary parties to debate the budget while ensuring social distancing. He further disclosed that the government is mulling a tentative date for the budget session in the third week of June.
Earlier in April, Speaker Ghani had invited parliamentary leaders of all opposition parties for a consultation on the budget.
Leader of the Opposition in the K-P Assembly Akram Khan Durrani, Awami National Party (ANP) Parliamentary Leader Sardar Hussain Babak, and other leaders of opposition parties, including Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Sher Azam, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Muhammad Yousaf and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Inyatullah Khan had been invited to the consultation.
The budget cannot be passed without first being debated by both the treasury and opposition benches, the source explained, adding that for this purpose, it was critical to convene a session of the assembly, which has not met since earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the assembly secretariat has finalised preparations for hosting a virtual session of the house.
The 11th session of the provincial assembly had been marred by protests and walkouts from the opposition parties who had demanded that the provincial government release the allocated development funds apart from ensuring an equitable distribution of these funds.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2020.
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