ISLAMABAD - In a rare parliamentary show, the national assembly Thursday started its sitting in the absence of two major opposition parties- PPP and PTI- with the speech of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who painted a glowing picture of the government’s performance on economic revival of the country.
Both the opposition parties continued their boycott of the session over Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s other day’s remarks about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the House. The minister had said that PTI made a fuss (tamasha) of the thumb impression verification of votes cast in general elections.
No formal apology or withdrawal of the statement came from the minister until the adjournment of the House that provoked Mahmood Khan Achakzai of Pakhtunkhaw Milli Awami Party (PKAMP) requesting the house speaker to make efforts to woo the opposition to end their boycott. He said this was a parliamentary practice all over the world that treasury benches address the reservations of opposition and woo them to end boycotts.
The speaker informed the House that a committee comprising three federal ministers - Zahid Hamid, Barjees Tahir and Khawaja Saad Rafique - was negotiating with both the opposition parties. Federal State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab informed the assembly that House Business Advisory Committee had been summoned today (Friday) to discuss all the matters that led to the awkward situation and both the annoyed parties had agreed to attend the meeting.
Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari on a point of order said that the national assembly should reject the demand of the Bangladesh government to withdraw the resolution passed by this House to express serious concerns on the hanging of JI leader Abdul Qadir Molla. The House started discussion on a motion moved by Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid on the prevailing law and order situation in the country before it was adjourned until Friday.
Earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar giving policy statement about the economic conditions of the country and the government’s efforts to boost up the economy of the country said that the country was heading towards economic revival and stability due to viable economic reforms. He rejecting the criticism of the opposition said that PML-N led government would not let anyone hijack the economy of Pakistan.
The minister said television talk shows were abuzz about the sources of the money used to clear the circular debt and he wanted to clear the confusion. He said that total Rs480 billion were paid to 35 companies to clear the circular debt and the details of these companies had been posted on finance ministry’s website.
“Out of the total money, Rs 128 billion were paid through the issuance of Pakistan Investment Bonds, Rs135 billion through savings of government functionaries, Rs20 billion through dividends of state enterprises, Rs138 billion through the recoveries and only Rs59 billion were taken from the federal consolidated fund,” Dar said.
the minister said, “1,700MW electricity came in the national grid due to the clearance of circular debt and because of the reason, our industrial growth surged up at 7 percent in the first quarter of the current financial year that was negative some months back.“ Ishaq Dar said the country was previously paying 14 percent interest on the circular debt and by retiring the debt‚ we would be saving Rs55 billion rupees annually just on account of interest.
Dar said that government’s agreement with IMF was also under severe criticism and it was being called a secret agreement. He said neither any secret agreement was made nor the government was taking the dictation of IMF. All the details of the agreement had been posted on the finance ministry’s website, he went on. He said that the loan was taken to pay back the previous loans as 3 billion dollars had to be paid this year.
Ishaq Dar said the government was committed to bring the GDP ratio up to six percent during the next four years. He said it was hoped that budget deficit would further decrease by the end of this fiscal year and the targets would be achieved which would help ensure bring stability in the economy. The minister said that government was reducing budget deficit from 8 to 4 percent gradually. He said that the Standing Committee for the Promotion of Islamic Baking had been notified to pave way for Islamic Banking in the country.
“The government had abolished the discretionary funds of the prime minister, we have reviewed the expenditures of foreign missions and their staff is being slashed and it will save two billion rupees,” Dar said. He said that government had approved a policy that no minister or secretary would be the member of more than one boards as they were receiving millions to attend these board meetings.