ISLAMABAD: The debate on the federal budget in the National Assembly picked up pace on Wednesday, occasionally degenerating into mudslinging, as lawmakers from the treasury and opposition resorted to badmouthing.
Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar seized the opportunity to inform the House that the World Bank has allocated $588 million for the Dasu Dam with unanimous approval. More than ten members participating in the budget debate spoke more on politics rather than the budget. The House turned noisy when Omar Ayub Khan of the PML-N was called a lota (turncoat) by the PTI and PPP members after he criticised both the parties “for making hollow claims”.
PTI Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Ayub to keep his criticism within limits. Taking part in the budget, Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed said that the government has failed to reduce the circular debt, which has climbed to Rs 400 billion, while the inflation rate has increased from five percent to eight percent during the one-year period of the present government.
“For the first time I did not read the budget documents due to the fake facts and figures of the government,” he said. “It seems that the government may fail to fulfil its promise of providing electricity during its five-year tenure. The IPP’s have refused to increase the production of electricity due to the non-clearance of the pending dues,” he added. He said that the government will not reduce the price of electricity due to the pressure of the IMF.
Rasheed alleged that the government has been appointing heads of different departments in disregard of merit, while a one-man show continues in the country. The Awami Muslim League leader said that the government is unable to take any kind of decision, and asked it to take the nation on board before starting dialogue with the militants or conducting an operation against them.
Speaking on the occasion Umar Ayub claimed that all the mega projects are being launched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI is in power and said out that the government is providing 56 percent share to provinces under the NFC. “The government has allocated Rs 20 billion for 188 projects of higher education related to the provinces,” he said. The PML-N MNA alleged that Imran Khan wants to get the position of the opposition leader in the Lower House of parliament.
Responding to the shouting of the PTI lawmakers, who called him a turncoat, Ayub reminded them that Imran had also supported Pervez Musharraf during his referendum. Meanwhile, PPP’s Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani launched an outburst and said that he remembers when Ayub once presented the federal budget in Musharraf era, but has now been pushed to the back benches. Ijaz claimed that during the PPP tenure, inflation was at five percent, but has now increased to eight percent.
Later, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the House that the government has allocated Rs 55 billion for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, and added that there is no need to get a no-objection certificate from any neighbouring country in this regard. Dar said that the government is trying to achieve its economic targets under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and it will complete such projects for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.
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