LAHORE: The Punjab government should debate a one-time flood tax proposal in the Punjab Assembly (PA) rather than outright reject it, opposition members said as they debated flood rescue activities in the assembly on Thursday.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) MPA Mohsin Leghari demanded that the government should debate the pros and cons of the flood tax proposal instead of taking a one-sided decision. “Coordination between the opposition and the government is a healthy practice and on issues like flood relief this practice should be maintained,” he said. He said that in the past the government had imposed a luxury tax and there was no harm if a one-time flood tax was imposed on the wealthy to aid flood victims.
Responding to Leghari Law Minister Rana Sanullah said that debate on flood relief activities would continue and the flood tax issue would be discussed on Friday.
He said that the government welcomed all suggestions regarding relief activities from the opposition. “The members should get time to give their suggestions, the Chief Minister will then sum up the debate and deliver a policy statement,” he said.
The opposition members, including Leghari and Dr Samia Ahmad, also said that the government should form disaster management cells on the provincial and district levels and provide legal cover for them.
While the session was in progress, outside students were protesting against the constitution of the board of governors at 26 Punjab colleges. Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood, as he took over the chair to replace Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal, sent a committee comprising Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael, Labour Minister Ashraf Sohna and MPA Amna Ulfat to speak with the students and inquire about their demands. The committee, on its return, informed the house that the students wanted to express their apprehensions about the policy. Mashood asked Sanaullah to investigate the matter, the law minister assured the house that a meeting of the students and the teachers’ representatives would be arranged with the education minister and relevant secretaries.
Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Ahmad Ali Aulakh while being quizzed by PML-Q Forward Bloc member Sheikh Alauddin regarding embezzlements at Cooperatives Banks Haveli Lakha branch was confused and could not satisfy Alauddin. Aulakh said that professional bankers, on the State Bank’s instructions, had been deputed at the Cooperative Bank. He said 22,000 cases had been registered for the recovery of loans given by the Cooperative Bank.
He said that previously the Board of Governors of the Cooperative Bank had 39 people, currently that number was 7.
He said that that bank had so far returned Rs3.55 billion out of the Rs8 billion it owed the State Bank. Alaudin said that the Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank was running a loss despite the special mark up it received from the State Bank. Speaker Iqbal intervened upon which Alauddin said, “You’re a good defender, Mr Speaker,” and sat down.
MPAs Dr Akhtar Malik, Tahir Khalil Sindhu, Ilyas Chinoti, Mian Muhammad Rafique and others delivered speeches on relief activities.
Law Minister Sanaullah speaking to reporters outside the Punjab Assembly said that with his statements Pervez Musharraf had yet again brought PPP and PML-N together.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2010.
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