All the opposition parties in the National Assembly rejected the federal budget, accusing the government of presenting “false figures”, and decided to form a united front to give it a tough time in the house.
Talking to the media after the presentation of the Budget 2021-22 in the National Assembly, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had made false claims in the budget.
“The government has given false figures and made false claims. The poor in the country are finding it hard to eke out a one-time meal but they [the government] are saying that the economy is growing,” Shahbaz, also the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told reporters.
“Poverty and unemployment are widespread in the country. The worst load-shedding is happening today,” the opposition leader said. “We will give this government a tough time on the budget,” Shehbaz added.
On the occasion, Bilawal said that the PPP members of the National Assembly were with Shehbaz Sharif, adding that the opposition leader could use his party’s lawmakers as he deemed useful in its strategy against government.
“The budget presented by the finance minister seems to be another country’s budget. He [the finance minister] is talking about the economy of another country,” Bilawal told reporters.
The budget, he added, is tantamount to rubbing salt on the people’s wounds.
“A country where people face historic poverty, historic inflation and historic unemployment, the prime minister and the finance minister of this country stood up and talked about economic development. Their claims don’t carry weight,” he added.
“Political differences among the parties apart, but together we have to raise voice against this budget. We have to fight this budget and this incompetent government,” the PPP chairman said.
Responding to a question, Shahbaz Sharif said that the opposition would adopt a joint strategy for the no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri. “We have had consultation on the no-confidence motion,” he added.
Earlier, parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties held a meeting with the opposition leader in his chamber to discuss their strategy. The meeting agreed that all efforts would be made to block the budget’s approval.
The meeting was attended by Raja Pervez Ashraf and Syed Naveed Qamar, Maulana Asad Mehmood, Shahid Akhtar, Amir Haider, Aga Hassan Baloch, and independent member Mohsin Dawar.
Addressing the opposition parliamentary leaders’ meeting, Shehbaz Sharif said the Pakistanis were caught between economic strife, inflation, unemployment on the one hand, and the worst load-shedding amid scorching heat, on the other.
“The government is responsible for mismanagement of electricity [sector]. It has kept schools open and children fainted because of the summer heat and power outages. But the government doesn’t care and is totally indifferent to the misery of the people,” he said.
He described the Economic Survey for the outgoing fiscal year 2020-21 released on Thursday, as a charge-sheet against the government. “The survey exposes the 3 years [performance] of the government,” he said.
“The current data is depressing and alarming. The 13% food inflation, increasing debt and tax collection shortfall are the biggest crimes of the PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] government,” he said. “People didn’t get anything other than abject poverty, starvation and unemployment.”
“PTI’s tall claims have fallen flat on its face, their shallow-mindedness is exposed. After destruction of economy in 3 years, how will this government reach its destination if they couldn’t even figure out the right direction in 3 years,” he lambasted.
Later, the PPP chairman joined the protesting government employees to express solidarity with them outside Parliament House. Speaking on the occasion, Bilawal said that the PTI government had not fulfilled the agreement made with the government employees.
“The government claims that the economy is taking off and we are on the path to progress, then why the salaries of the government employees are not increased,” he asked. “The government should have increased salaries to a maximum level amid the pandemic.”
“The PTI government is committing injustices to the poor people of Pakistan. Inflation in Pakistan has increased manifold, while poverty and unemployment have reached unprecedented high-level during last three years.”
Replying to a question, Bilawal said: “We are demanding of the government to act on the agreement it made with the employees. The government should increase salaries like the PPP had increased during its tenure in the government.”