ISLAMABAD, Jun 17 (APP): Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) on Friday expressed confidence that the incumbent coalition government would soon be able to improve the ailing national economy due to the corrective measures it had proposed in the federal budget 2022-23.
Participating in the budget debate in House, Shahnaz Saleem Malik of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) termed the next fiscal plan ‘balanced & people-friendly’ and hoped that the coalition government would steer the country out of the inherited economic crisis.
She held the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) responsible for the sky-rocketing inflation, caused by its wrong economic policies and the agreements signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The lawmaker said the coalition government had taken sufficient measures by providing relief and incentives to the farming community to promote the agriculture sector, which was considered the backbone of the national economy.
She appreciated the government for increasing the pay and pension of the employees as it would help lessen their financial problems to a great extent.
Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf of the PML-N said although the country was passing through a critical time, but the government would hopefully tackle all the confronted challenges with collective wisdom.
He asked for paying special attention to the development of agriculture sector on strong footing and introducing innovative ways of cultivation, besides reducing the input cost ensuring the appropriate rate of agri-produces to growers.
He called for providing special incentives to the growers for installation of renewable energy generation plants for tube-wells and hybrid tractors to bring down the cost of inputs making agricultural produces more competitive.
He highlighted the importance of establishing industrial units for manufacturing hybrid batteries for tractors and solar panels that would help reduce the cost of inputs and save energy.
He also suggested preparing a proper mechanism to curb the hoarding and black-marketing of fertilizers and other agriculture inputs by using the ‘Crop Reporting’ services available with all the provinces.
He lauded the government’s decision to withdraw sales tax on seeds and solar panels, adding the country could get rid of international lending institutions by paying special attention to the agriculture sector development.
Shahida Rehmani of the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) stressed for allocating funds in the federal budget for women development.
She said women made half of the country’s total population and their active participation in the parliamentary business would help empower them constitutionally and socially.
She proposed withdrawal of some duties suggested in the budget on import of raw materials used in manufacturing of women-related items that would enhance prices of the products.
Shahida also apprised the House about the difficulties in the availability of clean drinking water for the citizens of Karachi, and stressed the need for installing desalination plants in order to address the issue.
She said the Karachi Circular Railway project should be completed at the earliest to provide better transportation facilities to the residents of mega metropolitan city of Karachi.
The lawmaker drew the attention of the House towards climate change challenges and the increasing global temperature, which were posing serious threats to the country, especially the agriculture sector.
She hailed the government for abolishing tax on the import of solar panels, saying it would help reduce the reliance on costly energy mix as well as overcoming the environmental issues.
Shagufta Jumani of the PPPP said the federal government had allocated funds for the promotion of education sector, adding all the provinces after 18th Constitutional Amendment were responsible to look after the matters related to the sector.
She said if the budgetary allocations of both the federal and provincial governments were calculated, it would be over Rs1,530 billion for the fiscal year 2022-23.
She appreciated the government for introducing special initiatives for the uplift of agriculture sector and urged focusing on the agriculture value addition.
She expressed concern over mushroom growth of housing societies on the prime agriculture land, cautioning that the trend was causing reduction in agricultural output. Mango production had witnessed a 65 percent decline, she added.
Saira Bano of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) expressed concern over the rising petroleum prices and said it had badly impacted the life of a common man, particularly the under privileged segments of the society.
She informed the House that some rickshaw drivers in Nawabshah district of Sindh had burnt their vehicles in protest due to continued surge in the petroleum prices. Those rickshaws were their sole source of income.
Suggesting more austerity measures, the lawmaker, who is also Chairperson of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation, returned her privileged fuel card to Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
Moulana Asmatullah of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan (MMAP) highlighted the problems faced by the public in his constituency Quetta-I and requested the government to provide missing basic facilities like electricity and gas there.
He said in his constituency, there was a Kuchlak valley that stretched over to the Afghan border, but its people lacked almost all basic facilities, adding that the public had given him the mandate to take up their issues in the National Assembly and solve their problem.
He requested the government to initiate much-needed development projects there so that the sense of deprivation of the locals could be removed.
Mir Muawar Ali Talpur of the PPPP said the previous government in its tenure had badly ruined the national economy, and even did not fulfill any of its promises made to the public like the provision of jobs and residential units.
He also advocated for resolving the water issue confronted by the Sindh province by constituting a parliamentary committee.
He stressed the need to tape the existing minerals and agriculture sectors’ potential for strengthen the economy, besides building up new water reservoirs to meet the requirements of the farming community.
On a point of order, Dr Fehmida Mirza of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) expressed concern over the increasing prices of petrol and diesel, and their negative impact on the general public.
She also mentioned an incident taking place in Nawab Shah district of Sindh, in which two drivers put their rickshaws on fire in protest against the 85 percent increase in the petroleum prices.
She suggested chairpersons of the parliamentary committees to return their ‘fuel cards’ to the House so that the government expenses could be reduced with less utilization of fuel in official vehicles.
Dr Fehmida urged to resolve the water shortage issue being faced in different areas of the Sindh province to help the farming community.
Responding to the point of order, Federal Minister Javed Latif said there should be no political point scoring and the issues could be discussed on merit.
He said it was unfortunate that former prime minister Imran Khan had spent around Rs 1 billion on his travel from Banigala residence to the PM House in a helicopter, setting aside tall claims of austerity.
He said during the tenure of PTI government, corruption was rampant which was evident from the illegal handling of the recovered money laundered in Britain and the Farah Gogi case.
Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah said no doubt the country was facing a severe water shortage, but hoped that with the recent and upcoming rains water levels in dams and rivers would significantly improve.
He said he would talk to the Sindh water minister to ensure the supply of water to the tail-end of different fields for irrigation purposes.