ISLAMABAD: The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the National Assembly, on Thursday, continued debate on the federal budget 2021-22, acknowledging the economic growth and stressing the need for giving maximum relief to the common man in the next fiscal plan.
The treasury benches claimed the world institutions were all praise for Pakistan’s performance on the economic front, despite the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s Hina Rabbani Khar, a former foreign minister severely criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan for recent interview about nuclear deterrence of the country, saying “how can you have people in power who do not take any responsibility for the weight that they carry as representative of the State”.
“When you come into the office of the prime minister, you seize to be Imran Khan or xyz, and you become the prime minister of Pakistan and everything you say can’t be I, myself and I think, but you’re so self-obsessed that you think you can give a policy statement on nuclear deterrence as I think,” she said.
She continued that nobody cares what Imran Khan thinks but people do care what the government’s policy about nuclear deterrence of the country is, adding “do you think this is something to be played frivolously with”.
Khar also came down hard on Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for his “hesitation” to call former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as “killed”, saying the minister finds it so difficult to call OBL as “killed” whose men martyred soldiers, policemen, and children.
“My question to the minister [Shah Mehmood] is that the al-Qaeda leader [OBL] and his men killed our soldiers, policemen and children, so whom do you think – the soldiers and children – are martyrs or the Al-Qaeda chief or his men,” she questioned.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s Marriyum Aurangzeb said the government could not fulfill the promises it made for the construction of five million houses and provision of 10 million jobs to the youth.
She said that the budget is not prepared by any adviser or a minister as it is prepared by a “Zakuta jinn” which is present at the PM’s House from the day one, and has been asking whose blood it should suck.
However, she did not elaborate her logic behind “Zakuta jinn”, but it did create some ripples in the treasury benches with the PTI, MNA Amir Liaquat standing from his seat and said: “it is strange, how Bin Batori could mention Zakuta jinn, when there will come her name [Bin Batori], there will certainly come the Ainak Wala Jinn [jinn with glasses]”.
PTI lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Vankwani urged all the political parties to evolve consensus on electoral reforms through mutual consultation.
He said that the country was facing various challenges on external and internal fronts and it was the need of the hour to resolve the issues with consensus.
He commended the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) for effective handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PML-N lawmaker, Rana Tanveer Hussain, said that taxes of Rs380 billion had been imposed in the current budget, while the government negated its own stance and approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He demanded of the government to take parliament into confidence on the major issues and focus on poor-friendly policies.
He said that Pakistan faced many challenges and greater unity was needed to overcome them, and asked the government to ensure provision of maximum relief to the common man in the budget with a special focus on public welfare projects.
PPP’s Syed Fazal Ali Shah Jillani said that there would be no compromise on finality of Prophethood (PBUH) as it is our faith.
Before coming into power, he added, the government made several claims but it did not fulfill the promises made with the public.
The PML-N legislator, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, said that Parliament was the supreme institution and it should be made authoritative, in real terms to protect the rights of people who elected them.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the economic indicators are improving with agriculture, industries, and services sectors witnessing growth.
He said that Ehsaas Programme is aimed at realising the vision of transforming Pakistan into a welfare state, adding the health card initiative is helping the underprivileged segments of the society to get free of cost medical treatment.
He said the present government has also started construction work on major dams such as Diamer-Bhasha, Dasu, and Mohmand, which will help irrigate our land.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan has set an example of across the board accountability under which those belonging to the ruling party are also facing cases.
Seemi Bukhari of the PTI said that minimum wages have been increased to Rs20,000, while the salaries of government employees have been raised by 10 percent.
She said the world institutions are also now recognising the economic performance of the country.
Ahmed Hussain Deharr said the government has given a comprehensive plan to lift the people out of poverty.
He said the budget has given a ray of hope to the poor people.
Shandana Gulzar said that Ehsaas Programme is an excellent social safety net programme for economic empowerment of women, addingwe need to take special steps to save the children from abuse.
Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Fehmida Mirza said the budget envisages a program to uplift the weakest segments of the society.
She said 15 million families were provided with immediate assistance under Ehsaas cash emergency program after the breakout of Covid-19 last year.
She said incentives were also given to various sectors including the industries and construction to give impetus to the economy in difficult situation.
She regretted that the opposition held big public gatherings when the pandemic was on the rise.
She said the government has announced packages for less-developed areas including Gilgit-Baltistan, tribal districts, Sindh, and Balochistan.
Mir Amir Ali Khan Magsi opposed the use of electronic voting machines in the elections.
He said Sindh province should not be neglected in development.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021