Punjab budget marred by uncertainty

Govt says it will be presented on June 13; secretariat issues notification for 16

Our Correspondent June 12, 2022
Punjab Assembly. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The Punjab Assembly’s budget session for 2022-23 is embroiled in uncertainty as the provincial government claims that the financial outlay for the new fiscal year will be presented on June 13, the legislature’s secretariat has already issued a notification for June 16.

Interestingly, the assembly secretariat has received a notification from newly appointed governor of Punjab, Balighur Rehman, as well to convene the budget session.

The budget session has become a question mark with issues between PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and the provincial government intensifying.

Read more: Inflation-hit govt employees get 15% raise in salary

The power struggle in the province seems to be growing stronger with each passing day with Elahi -- a key ally of the opposition PTI – not accepting Hamza as the Punjab CM.

On April 16, PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz was “elected” as the new chief minister of Punjab securing 197 votes amid the chaos that erupted in the provincial assembly, but his rival candidate, Elahi, had declared the polls as “illegal”.

However, after a long, drawn-out legal and political battle, Hamza was finally sworn-in as the Punjab chief minister on April 30.

The oath of office was administered to him by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in accordance with the Lahore High Court’s order, at the Governor’s House in Lahore.

Also read: Govt unveils Rs9.5 trillion federal budget for 2022-23

Earlier, the LHC CJ had passed orders twice. The first was to President Arif Alvi to nominate anyone for administering the oath to Hamza but the order was in vain. The second time, the LHC chief justice had advised then then Punjab governor, Omar Sarfraz Cheema, to ensure the swearing-in of Hamza, but the constitutional obligation was not followed.

The PML-N leader for the third time knocked the LHC doors over not being administered his oath. This time, the petitioner had requested the LHC to “nominate any person” for the administration of oath at the Governor House at a specified time calling for the "coercive arm of the state to be set in motion for the implementation of the court orders".

Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-seated 25 PTI lawmakers from the Punjab Assembly for voting against the party lines in the election for the chief minister of the province. By-polls will now be held on 20 general seats in July.

Also in May, the PTI had filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, requesting that Hamza’s election as the Punjab chief minister should be declared illegal.

After back to back decisions of the Supreme Court and Election Commission of Pakistan pertaining to PTI dissidents who stood disqualified and de-seated, Elahi had reaffirmed that he was former premier Imran Khan’s candidate who would dissolve the assembly within half an hour if the PTI chairman asked him to once he takes oath as the governor.

Responding to a question about Hamza becoming the CM, he had said when the foundation of any work was weak it was like a house built on sand. “Those who had built such a house would be buried in it and their name and mark would disappear.”

Elahi had emphasised how he had been saying from day one that the election for the CM slot was wrong and even his oath taking. “Now it has been proven,” he said, adding that the next step would be to pick them up and throw them out.

In an interview to BBC Urdu, Elahi had denied any rumours of him parting ways with his cousin and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, insisting that his party would remain united.

But when pointed out that Chaudhry Salik Hussain, son of Shujaat, was part of the government, Elahi was quick to criticise his nephew.

He added that Salik was an inexperienced newcomer in the world of politics.


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