ISLAMABAD: A demand to rename the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme (BISP) by opposition legislators kicked up a commotion in the National Assembly on Monday.
The demand to rename the programme was made by 87 opposition lawmakers when the Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme 2009 Bill was tabled in the House. MNAs Zahid Hamid, Tahira Aurangzeb and Doniya Aziz argued in favour of the amendment. They said that since the BISP was being doled out from tax-payers’ money, it should be renamed the National Support Programme. This drew the ire of the treasury benches, and pandemonium ensued.
However, after assurances by the prime minister, the demand was withdrawn.
The prime minister said that Benazir Bhutto was not only a leader of the Pakistani people but an international leader. “She had been struggling for the restoration of democracy, the constitution and the rights of the media and the people of Pakistan. People who deliver are remembered for generations,” he added. Gilani pointed out that many programmes and initiatives are named after the people who initiate them, mentioning the Kerry-Lugar, Pressler and Brown bills. He said that the programme had been running smoothly for two years, and no one should object to the name now.
The opposition then dropped its demand to amend the name of the programme in the legislation, and the bill was passed by the house by a majority vote. Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf has disclosed that nationwide line losses in the last 10 months amounted to Rs378 billion, of which Rs19 billion was accounted for by electricity theft.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly on Monday, the minister said that those found guilty of power theft were penalised Rs6.5 billion, of which Rs4 billion had been realised. He added that 87 employees were fired due to their involvement in electricity theft. Journalists staged a walkout from the press gallery over “rude behaviour” of police in the Sindh Assembly during the session. The deputy speaker expressed his concern over the police behaviour and sought a detailed report of the incident. (with Additional input from wires)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2010.
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