ISLAMABAD May 31 (APP): The National Assembly on Wednesday continued debate on annual budget 2017-18 as members appreciated the government measures to overcome power shortage and intiating development projects for the socio economic development of the country.
Amidst opposition’s walkout to protest non-availability of time to live telecast speech of the Opposition leader, the members from treasury benches continued discussion as opposition parties organized their own separate session outside the building.
The National Assembly on Wednesday witnessed two sessions with one in the House premises as regular session while another session organized by the opposition outside the House building.
The treasury members took exception of the opposition attitude who thay stated used to draw salaries from national exchequer but shy away from pleading the case of their people.
“Budget debate is meant for holding the government accountable and highlighting the problems of their respective constituencies,” said MNA Mahmood Bashir Virk.
He said it would have been better if the opposition members had fully participated in the debate.
He said that the government was fulfilling its duties by giving opportunity to opposition to speak on the budget. But, the opposition is shying away from its duties to the parliament and their voters.
MNA Nasir Khan Khattak appreciated the government measures announced in the budget and thanked the federal government for extending CPEC to parts of KPK and including the province in different development projects.
He also appreciated measures for controlling load shedding in the country and endorsed that agreements for LPG and LNG were transparent.
The member regretted decrease in exports and demanded form the government to reframe strategies for targeting more and more external markets for exchange as he argued not to further depreciate rupee against dollar as it will make the exporters suffer.
Nasir Khan said, the tax base could not be expanded as envisaged and there was need to start a survey to identify new tax payers and FBR be provided proper resources to carry out this exercise.
MNA Asiya Nasir said the government provided a platform to the opposition for deliberations on the budget but opposition’s attitude was beyond perception. As PTI has an unknown agenda against the country, the attitude of PPPP was painful as the opposition was following the path of PTI.
Speaking on the budget, she demanded equal rights for women and minorities in development activities and employment opportunities.
“Women members must be given due share in PSDP for development activities while women who make half of the population also need opportunities and protection of their rights”.
She also demanded to revive the education system to ensure equal opportunities for the rich and the poor while proper measures should also be taken to protect the rights of minorities in the country.
The member demanded proper implementation of National Action Plan and said, terrorism and extremism must be seen in all dimensions instead of simply focusing on the religious seminaries.
There was also need for continued efforts against terrorism and the government should review policies for achieving this goal.
She also demanded check on commodities prices as well as a package for Balochistan other than the CPEC as the poor people in Balochistan could have also benefited from the development activities.
MNA Chaudhry Muhammad Asharf said, the opposition should play its role in the parliament instead of politicking on non-issues.
“It is better to fulfill their duties in the House as they represent millions of Pakistanis and also draw salaries form the hard earned money of poor Pakistanis”.
He appreciated the decisions of the government to continue with less power tariff for tube wells, decrease in fertilizers prices and announcement of Kisan package but added that the major problem for farmers is to ensure proper price for their products.
He was of the view that the abolition of federal agriculture ministry the farmers had suffered a lot as they lack national policy for agricultural growth and export of agricultural products.
He said agriculture was backbone of country’s economy and the government should pay special heed to small farmers for sustainable development and economic growth.
The agriculture sector must also be ensured loans on lesser mark up like industrial loans.
MNA Raja Javed Akhlas said, due to concrete measures of the government, Pakistan had successfully fought out terrorism in the country and proved that the government and the armed forces were capable enough to cleanse our society from this menace.
He said parts of Pakistan including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi were the worst hit by terrorist activities. The elected government and military leadership unanimously embarked on the challenge of fighting this menace and with the support of nation achieved the goal.
“Today Pakistan is considered to be future destination for investors as it is emerging as hub of economic activities in coming years,” he added.
Javed Akhlas said, the projects initiated during present government tenure shall help make the country self-sufficient in power and infrastructure sectors, ensure economic growth and pave way for enhancing exports and attracting investment for various countries.
“Today we can see the fruits of development and people oriented policies of the government”, he remarked.
He appreciated the LPG and LNG agreements of the government to overcome gas shortage and said the transparent deals of the government not only helped overcome the gas and power shortage but also uninterrupted supply to CNG stations.
He thanked the Finance Minister for allocating funds to complete Mandra-Chakwal and Sohawa-Chakwal roads that would benefits hundreds of thousands travelers in the area as he also appreciated curtailing petroleum prices, announcement of Kisan-package, CPEC and construction of motorways and power plants.
He said Imran Khan is a master of U-turns as he started from siding with a dictator and then targeted the parliament and democratic forces in the country to hamper development activities.
Imran,s integrity and loyalty with the country remained questionable over the period as he mad every endeavor to derail democracy during sit-in days, he added. But, our political leadership foiled his conspiracies.
MNA Peer Bakhsh Junejo demanded to focus farmers problems especially in Sindh as he mentioned to sale of poor quality pesticides and insecticides as he stated that the provincial government was least bothered to problems of farmers in the province.
He said nobody listens to their grievances in the province as he demanded from the federal government to intervene to address the problems of farmers like water lining of canals, purchase of wheat by PASSCO, subsidy to farmers, proper rates for products, quality seeds and pesticides.
He demanded development schemes for Sindh areas other than those where the NHA projects are under construction, include inter-district roads in NHA projects and link more districts with Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway.
He also demanded gas for people in his constituency where the residents are entitled under the Supreme Court decisions of five kilometer radius, enhance salary of laborers to Rs 20,000, waive tax on dividends, extend health card facilities to Sindh people.
Taking part in the debate, Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal said the Finance Minister presented the budget in line with the vision of the Prime Minister for the development of the country.
He said the government has taken pragmatic steps not only to curb menace of terrorism but also to end energy crisis.
He said PML-N inherited energy crisis and terrorism issue from PPP government.
However, owing to the prudent policies under the dynamic leadership of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent government has succeeded to maintain peace and tranquility in the country.
He said gas was not only available for the domestic consumers but also was being supplied to the power plants for electricity generation.
He said the past government led by PPP could not achieve any targets.
The tax collection has witnessed 80 per cent sharp increase during the last four years, he said.
Jaffar said subsidy on fertilizer would help improve the agriculture sector’s production and its contribution to the GDP.
Aliya Kamran said more funds should be allocated for education, health and energy sectors particularly technical education.
She said there was dire need of allocating more funds for the health sector by the provincial and the federal governments.
She said the government should also allocate more resources for provision of cheap electricity.
She said operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radul Fasad were launched to purge the country from terrorists; however, it was need of the hour to maintain good relations with the neighbouring countries.
She said dependency on acquiring more and more loans should be minimized for progress and prosperity of the people.
Shaista Pervaiz congratulated the government and its team led by the Finance Minister for presenting 5th consecutive pro poor budget.
Later, the House was adjourned to meet again on Friday at 11:00 am.