Opp rejects budget, walks out against govt’s ‘non-seriousness’

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House of parliament on Tuesday rejected the budget 2014-15 while terming it pro-industrialist and capitalist, having no relief for the poor.
The combined opposition senators also stage a protest demonstration against Tuesday’s heavy firing in Karachi. They accused the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of having a “non-serious” attitude over the Karachi airport attack and budget. Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rejected the budget, calling it a budget for the industrialists and feudal. “This budget is totally against the aspirations of the nation, we reject it,” he said.
Earlier, Senator Rabbani had called for a walk-out after he refused to discuss the budget recommendations in the absence of the ministers. Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Tahir Mashhadi said the government’s attitude towards terrorism is “non-serious”. Senator Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) accused the government of being “autocratic” on the issues of national concern. PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha said that the situation in the country would deteriorate even further if the government did not come out with a clear strategy.
Later on, starting the budget debate, PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani said some unconstitutional steps were taken in the budget. “It will further widen the gap between the urban and rural centres due to more concentration on urban areas.” He said that the government is not making transfers under the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, which is unconstitutional. He questioned who would implement the minimum wage rate of Rs 12,000 announced in the budget. Rejecting the 10% increase in the government servants salaries, he demanded that it may be increased to 20 % for BPS 1 to 15 and 15% for BPS 16 and above. 
Rabbani said the ordinary Pakistani will have to pay heavy taxes on essential imported items, but the royals of the UAE and Qatar have been exempted from import duties. He also rejected imposition of 5% duty on different medicines. Rabbani said in the budget the cycle is being reversed i.e. the federal government is transferring the provincial surplus to the federation in order to cover its budget deficit. Under the 18th Amendment it essentially transfers from the federal government to provinces. “Education and health are devolved subjects, but the government has increased allocation in the budget, which is unconstitutional,” he observed. 
Rabbani also regretted that the government has failed to control tax exemptions given to powerful businessman. He said the PML-N government has always pleaded for austerity measures, but Rs 1.54 billion have been spent on the purchase of two BMW 76 high security sedans and for security apparatus for the VIP and to train Intelligence Bureau officials. He said Rs 69 billion is being spent on the Pakistan Post Office and for restoration of GOP building in Murree. Another Rs 195 million was spent on account of Ministry of Interior for purchase of six sniffer dogs for security duties at the Prime Minister’s House. 

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