The Punjab Assembly passed 42 demands of grants and defeated two opposition cut motions with a majority, thereby passing the supplementary budget for 2011-12.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also made an appearance in the assembly in order to deliver a summing up speech on the budget, but decided against it when the opposition created a ruckus.
The assembly session resumed at 10.45am on Saturday. Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman delivered the winding up speech in the general debate on the supplementary budget and defended the extra spending of 2011-12. He said that Punjab was facing the “worst ever discrimination” in terms of electricity supply due to bad policies of the new prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who had previously served as water and power minister.
He asked how a man who had been unable to run the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) could run the whole country. He said that Ashraf had destroyed WAPDA and the nation was praying he would not do the same to Pakistan.
Ehsanul Haq Naulatia of the PPP, speaking in support of a cut motion for the irrigation and land reclamation budget to be reduced to one rupee, said the Rs1.14 billion budget for the department for 2012-13 should be diverted to a project for the construction of Kalabagh Dam. He said that the dam was the most viable solution to the load shedding problem. He said that the Punjab government should divert all possible funds towards the construction of KBD.
Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor said that if the Pakistan Peoples Party presented a motion in favour of KBD, the treasury benches would support it.
The other cut motion, for the Rs310 million demand of grant for public health be reduced to a single rupee, was also defeated.
Load shedding complaints
Chief Minister Sharif arrived in the house later and the opposition reacted by making a lot of noise. Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal later prorogued the session indefinitely.
Sharif, speaking to reporters outside the assembly, repeated his government’s litany of complaints against the federal government regarding the electricity shortage. He said that the PPP-led government in Islamabad was discriminating against the Punjab in electricity supply. He said that Ashraf, as water and power minister, had literally kept the province in the dark. He said that he had no hope that the new prime minister would be able to resolve the power crisis.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ