Punjab Budget Lacks Vision - Opposition Leader

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Tuesday, 16 June 2015 18:04

LAHORE: Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed on Monday condemned the provincial government for “presenting a budget that lacks vision”. He said it was unclear how the government planned on spending the budgeted amounts considering it had failed to meet the targets set for the outgoing year.

He was speaking on the first day of the budget debate at the Punjab Assembly.

He said the government had failed to meet its revenue target for the outgoing year, set at Rs114million, by 35 percent.

He said expenditure in the education sector had been 48 per cent and in the energy sector 35 per cent of the budgeted amount. In Information Technology sector, he said the government had spent just 1.84 percent of the budget.

Rasheed said the budget had failed to meet the aspirations of the people of the province. He said the ruling party lacked vision despite its years in government.

He said it was unbecoming a government whose debt stood at Rs580 billion to increase allocation for the chief minister’s secretariat by 50 per cent of the amount spent in the outgoing year. He said the expense had been budgeted at Rs210 million last year but it came to Rs450 million by the end of the year.

He criticised the government for allocating millions of rupees for security arrangements at Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s residences. In contrast, he said, salaries and pensions rose by only 7.5 per cent.

He said Rs61.1 million had been set aside for the security of Jati Umra and Rs30 million for 180H Model Town. He said another Rs80 million had been set aside for purchase of land cruisers for security convoy, Rs200 million for purchase of mobile jammers, and Rs200 million for the VIP security squad.

Rasheed said the budget had been prepared by some bureaucrats without any input from the legislature. He said the cabinet had approved the budget without taking into consideration the suggestions put forth by the legislature. He said with just one meeting in the year the standing committees too had been ineffective. Rasheed criticised the government for its failure to tax luxury farmhouses and cars. He said the government was subsidising mill owners at the expense of farmers.

Rasheed recommended that the government consider waiving tax on transportation of agricultural goods and on air travel.

He criticised the increase in budget for the Police Department. He said that the additional amount allocated for the police should be spent for some other purpose.

While Pakistan Peoples Party’s parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly Qazi Ahmad Saeed echoed some of Rasheed’s criticisms of the government, he also complained that Rasheed had failed to highlight the plight of southern Punjab.

Treasury benches dismissed opposition’s criticism.They also criticised the opposition’s attitude during the budget speech.

Opposition member Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza said the absence of lawmakers was justified as they were convinced that their input on budget was not going to have any impact.

Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal said that rather than complaining about the government’s policy, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf should work on building consensus over Kalabagh Dam. He agreed with the opposition that provision of health facilities needed improvement and suggested that the finance minister introduce a mehangai (inflation) allowance for lower-grade government employees.

The session will continue on Tuesday at 10am.

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