Bilawal questions veracity of budget claims

PPP chief asks ruling party to stop using ‘State of Madina’ term

Our Correspodent June 18, 2021


Delivering a hard-hitting speech in the National Assembly on Friday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari demanded that the rulers should refrain from using the term “State of Madina” for their “incompetent” governance.

Bilawal claimed that a person who could not afford medicine for his mother knew that the claim of 4% growth rate was “false”. “This government has brought a tsunami of indirect taxes in this budget. If there is economic growth, then why is there unprecedented poverty in the country,” he asked.

“Workers who can’t send their children to school because of high prices are aware that the premier’s claims of economic growth are false. Inflation in Pakistan is higher than that in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and India.”

Bilawal pointed out that the speaker had not issued the production orders of his party’s Khursheed Shah, PTM’s Ali Wazir and PML-N’s’ Khawaja Asif, depriving them of their right to participate in the budget session.

The PPP chairman claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan was upset because someone had used derogatory remark against him and he had sent his friends to the National Assembly to create chaos.

“The PTI will have to pay a political price for what it did in parliament [in the previous proceedings] and we will not let this day be forgotten,” he added. Bilawal said he had tried hard to find PM Imran’s “positive deed” in the budget so that he could give some “good news” to the people.

According to the economic survey, he quipped, the increase in the number of donkeys in the country was only the “positive achievement” of Imran Khan’s government. “The budget is a relief for the rich and a burden for the common man,” he said.

“The government wants to hide false claims in the ‘PTIMF budget’ by stopping the opposition from exposing it, but the people already know because they are facing unprecedented inflation.” Bilawal pointed out that the government had not increased salaries amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Referring to a report by the UNDP, he said, poverty had reduced the most in Sindh and increased the most in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI was in power for the last eight years. “PTI members are not able to show their faces in their constituencies. Young people with not only one degree but with two are searching for jobs.”

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The PPP chairman said a woman in Multan had committed suicide after killing her children for being unable to cope with the rising prices and a member of the National Assembly from that city was claiming that there was economic development.

He maintained that those who had bargained on Kashmir and tried to give an NRO (amnesty) to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav considered it appropriate to “hit the opposition leader [Shehbaz Sharif] with the budget book”.

“Whenever we talk about the 18th Amendment and NFC [National Finance Commission], we are criticised for using the Sindh card,” he claimed.

“The implementation of the 18th Amendment and NFC are constitutional obligations and not optional. You cannot fulfil constitutional responsibilities, let alone talk about fulfilling promises made to the provinces.”

The PPP chairman claimed that the issue was not only about Sindh but also related to Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as their funds were being withheld.

Speaking about agriculture, Bilawal said the government could not take credit if wheat growers were happy today. He elaborated that the prime minister wanted to keep the purchase price of wheat at Rs1,600 but Sindh fixed it at Rs2,000 and then Punjab had to set the price at Rs1,800 against the wishes of the premier.

“If there is economic progress, then Imran Khan should come out of IMF deal,” he said. “The budget is a bundle of lies, a bundle of fake statistics designed to impress Facebook and Twitter users. If economic growth has increased, then why is Imran Khan standing like a beggar before the IMF?”

On the legislation regarding the electoral reform, he said, it was an attempt by the government to rob the people of their votes once again. On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, he said it could not succeed unless it benefitted the people of Balochistan. He added that the premier had announced Rs1 trillion package for Karachi but it was not mentioned in the budget.

Several MNAs, including JUI-F’s Maulana Asad Mehmood, BNP’s Dr Shahnaz Baloch, PTI’s Yaqoob Sheikh, PPP’s Nawab Yousuf Talpur, PTI’s Talib Hassan Nakai, PML-N’s Chaudhry Abid Raza, PTI’s Ghazala Saifee, PPP’s Mahesh Kumar Malani, PTI’s Gul Zafar Khan, PML-N’s Chaudhry Hamid Hameed, PTI’s Uzma Riaz, PPP’s Shahida Rehmani, PTI’s Sobia Kamal, and PML-N’s Tahira Aurangzeb, PTI’s Farooq Azam Malik, BNP’s Hashim Notezai and PPP’s Munawar Talpur also spoke on budget 2021-22.

The opposition lawmakers labelled the budget as anti-poor and far from reality. The treasury benches argued in favour of the budget and called it pro-poor. The budget discussion will continue in parliament on Saturday (today).