LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Thursday approved supplementary budget amounting to Rs 24.40 billion as it endorsed 41 demands for supplementary grants for the year 2013-14 during 12th sitting of 9th session.
For the first time during the current session, the Opposition did not resort to protest on any issue inside the House. Previously, almost every sitting was marred by walkout and protest during the proceedings.
The Opposition lawmakers moved cut motions on three demands for supplementary grants in respect of Jail & Convict Settlement, Irrigation Work and Loans to Municipalities/Autonomous Bodies. The Treasury rejected all the three cut motions taking advantage of its majority in the House. The only demand for supplementary grant which was approved unanimously by the House pertained to pensions. It was worth Rs 2, 708, 747,000.
Six lawmakers belonging to Opposition parties spoke on the cut motions. They opposed supplementary grants for Prisons Department, arguing that prisons had become breeding grounds for criminals instead of being a place to make the inmates responsible citizens.
Punjab Minister for Prisons Abdul Waheed Arain defended additional grants for the Prison Department stating that his department was performing well compared to the one in KPK where, according to him, situation was quite pathetic.
“It’s in the KPK where Taliban would barge into the jails and take away their prisoners”, he told PTI lawmakers who had opposed additional budget for his department.
The Minister told the House that government was in the process of installing jammers in 14 jails at a cost of Rs 330 million. The government, he added, had reserved RS 40 million for the poor prisoners sentenced on petty charges and who were in jails only because they could not pay the fine.
On a cut motion regarding Irrigation Department, Dr Wasim Akhtar of JI asked the government to evolve national consensus for construction of Kalabagh Dam, which, he said, was vital for country’s economy.
After the passage of the supplementary budget, Finance Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujah-ur-Rehman announced that the Chief Minister had approved two months additional salary for the entire Assembly staff for giving extra time during the budget session.
The Finance Minister also presented the supplementary schedule of authorised expenditure for the year 2013-2014 during Thursday’s Assembly proceeding which lasted for two-and-half hours.
Following the approval of supplementary budget, Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal; prorogued the session for an indefinite period.